By Diane Forrest
When my family relocated to another town, my mother found a job working in the school library at the junior high school. That was in 1976, 36 years ago. Since that time her involvement with libraries has continued to grow. When they were transferred to this town, she continued working for the school library, this time graduating to the high school. Today, even though she has retired from the school system, she continues working as a volunteer at our church library. She designs the display windows, helps in checking out books and with the orders of new books. Each year she attends a library conference to learn new and improved methods.
This week is National Friends of Libraries Week. This is to show gratitude to all those who support the libraries, either by volunteering or donations. The Public library provides a host of information and resources, most without charge. They also have access to internet usage and videos, and even some books. Libraries are funded through the government and state taxes. With the funding being cut in so many areas, it is hard to keep the hours open for operation. This is where the friends come in.
Friends of the libraries provide additional funding, as well as hold fund raising events. They can also make provisions in their will to continue to support the library. There was a cardiologist here in my town that was an avid contributor, and after he passed away a few years ago, he left provisions for their funding. They have since honored his support by naming a reading room after him.
Some tips from the American Library Association on ways to assist your library can be found on www.ala.org, and they include:
- Assist the Friends in getting the proclamation signed by your city or campus official.
- Offer a prominent location in the library where the Friends can coordinate a display and/or a membership table during National Friends of Libraries Week.
- Include information in the library's newsletter.
- Use this opportunity to evaluate how the library currently helps promote the Friends. Look for additional opportunities to promote the Friends on an ongoing basis, including membership, programs, and fundraisers. Consider a bulletin board in a prominent location, brochure holders at the circulation desk, bookmarks distributed by the circulation staff, and other simple ways to promote the Friends to all patrons.
- Tell your city or campus officials how important the Friends are to the ongoing success of the library. Use this opportunity to convey to officials how the Friends raise money, promote the library, and volunteer in many ways.
- If you submit a monthly article or information to the mayor, city council, or college officials, be sure to talk about the contributions of the Friends. Make it personal and quantify the support whenever possible (amount of money donated, number of volunteer hours, number of programs supported and number of people who attended, etc.).
- Submit an article to a citywide or campus-wide publication. Tell the personal story of a longtime volunteer with the Friends, the impact of Friends support on programs, services, and/or collections, or how the Friends supported the library in another way.
- Create a large "Thank You" card to post near the display or membership table coordinated by the Friends (if they decide to do this). Ask staff to personalize the card and/or sign their names.
- Ask staff to write "Love Letters" to Friends that can be posted throughout the library showing their support. Include quotes in the library's newsletter and/or on the library's website. Personal recognition makes volunteers feel appreciated!
So this week take some time to visit your local library, and find out what you can do to help support them.