What your “Friends” can do for you?

by Shayna Monnens, former Head Editor, INALJ South Dakota
previously published 1/16/14

What your “Friends” can do for you?

shaynamDoes your library have a Friends of the Library? Chances are good that there is! If so, are you a member? Do you know how to join? Are there opportunities to improve your volunteer skills (because that is always a good thing)? What sort of activities does the Friends do to support the library’s mission  and goals? There is so much that can be done!

Friends groups are great way to get community involvement into the library, beyond the everyday patron requests and interaction. While a Library board is usually comprised of a variety of individuals around the area, the opportunities to be involved with a Library board are less frequent. However, the Friends  groups are always looking for new members and new ways to help improve the library. This provided a great opportunity for the average community member to take ownership and involvement in the library.

A Friends committee can do a variety of things for a library.

  • These include fundraising, community involvement, book donations, program sponsorship, volunteer manpower, and so much more.
  • Books that are donated to the library can be turned around and place in used book sales that can bring in large amounts of funds to help support library programs.
  • Community events such as parades or carnivals are great places for Friends committees to have booth or information stands that highlight what they do and encourage new membership.
  • Having Friends members volunteer at major programs, such a summer reading events or author visits are also a great way to show off their service.
  • Each year our Friends committee focuses on one major contribution to the library, as well as the other aspects of involvement. We love our Friends, and we love what they do for us.

Does your library have an active Friends committee? Or are do your Friends write a check every year and leave it at that? Start talking with the Friends. Let them know what your library is looking for. Suggest great ideas on creating new committees to focus on different aspects of what a Friends committee does. Low on membership? Make that the goal for the year to make the Friends more prominent in the community. High numbers but little involvement? Plan and create fun events that are Friends oriented, and maybe have special “Friends Only” perks.

Has your Friends done some pretty phenomenal stuff for you library? Make sure you let them know how you much appreciate the hard work that they put into their service. Let them know how much they mean to your library. Are you interested in becoming a friend? Reach out to your local library and get more information on it. They would love to have you on board.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.