Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To the Friends of the Library

Libraries receive money from a variety of sources. Our taxes, special levies, grants, tuition dollars, private donations, and more all contribute to our thriving culture of libraries. But one source has a special place in my heart: Friends of the Library. Since next week is officially Friends of the Library week, I thought I'd tell my own story about my local Friends.

I've been a member of my local Friends for several years now, so I've seen first hand how much value they bring to our community. The way mine (Friends of Salem Public Library, by the way) is structured, they receive withdrawn books from the SPL collection as well as donations from the community, then sell them at a huge discount from their own little store inside the library. Every dollar they make goes to helping the library: for collection development, capital projects, and more.

But it's not just the money they raise. At their big semi-annual sales, I see people who can't afford to own books any other way going home with bags of them. I see kids balancing tall stacks of books with big smiles on their faces, knowing that those are their books and they don't have to share. I see collectors find just the right book, ecstatic to finally fill that empty spot on their shelf. The Friends help them all, all while bringing money back to the public library that offers so many services to these same people. Then they can offer more/better services, collect in more areas, on and on... It's a snowball of benefits and I love to watch it work.

As a full time support staffer, I've spent a lot of time in libraries and I've met a variety of people who are passionate about what libraries do. We support staffers do our essential part to ensure that libraries across the state function well. Friends groups are a great example of the power that regular people, whether they be library employees or not, have to improve their community. So this post serves as my little shout out to the folks who volunteer their time, energy, and expertise to make these organizations possible. Thank you!

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