What is a Friends Group?

A Library Friends Group, also known as a Friends of the Library group, is a community-based organization formed to support and advocate for a local library. These groups are typically composed of volunteers who are passionate about libraries and believe in their importance to the community. The primary purpose of a Library Friends Group is to raise funds, promote awareness, and provide support to the library.

Activities of a Library Friends Group may include:

  1. Fundraising: Friends Groups often organize events, book sales, or fundraising campaigns to generate financial support for the library. The funds raised can be used to purchase new books, equipment, or contribute to library programs.
  2. Advocacy: Friends Groups advocate for the library within the community and may work to raise awareness of the library’s importance. This can involve lobbying for increased funding, promoting library services, and addressing issues that affect the library.
  3. Volunteerism: Members of Friends Groups often volunteer their time to assist with library activities, events, and programs. This can include organizing book clubs, reading programs, or helping with library events.
  4. Community Engagement: Friends Groups aim to engage the local community with the library. They may organize events, lectures, or workshops to bring people together and highlight the value of the library as a community resource.
  5. Promotion of Literacy: Friends Groups may support literacy initiatives by promoting reading programs, providing resources for literacy education, and encouraging community members to develop strong reading habits.

Overall, Library Friends Groups play a crucial role in supporting the mission and services of the library, fostering community engagement, and ensuring that the library remains a vibrant and essential part of the local community.

How do I form a Friends Group?

Forming a Friends Group for your library can be a rewarding endeavor.  We recommend you work closely with library staff (especially the director) to ensure the group follows library and local government procedures and laws. 

Research and Planning:

  • Understand Library Policies: Familiarize yourself with your library’s policies regarding forming Friends Groups. Some libraries may have specific guidelines or requirements.
  • Gather Information: Collect information about the needs of your library, its goals, and areas where additional support would be beneficial.
  • Reach Out to Potential Members: Identify passionate individuals about the library and its services. This could include library patrons, community members, or local leaders.
  • Host Informational Meetings: Organize meetings to share your vision for the Friends Group, discuss the library’s needs, and gauge interest from potential members. 
  • Promote Through Library Channels: Utilize library newsletters, social media, and other communication channels to spread the word about the formation of the Friends Group. 
  • Collaborate with Existing Community Groups: Partner with local community organizations or clubs to expand your outreach and recruit members.

    Establish Goals and Structure:

    • Define Objectives: Clearly articulate the goals and objectives of the Friends Group. This could include fundraising, advocacy, and community engagement.
    • Create a Structure: Establish a basic organizational structure with roles such as president, treasurer, and secretary. Develop a constitution or bylaws to guide the group’s activities.
    • Hold a Founding Meeting: Conduct a formal founding meeting where members can officially establish the Friends Group, approve bylaws, and elect officers.
    • Register as a Nonprofit (if applicable): Depending on your goals and activities, you may want to consider registering the Friends Group as a nonprofit organization.
    • Collaborate with the Library by meeting with Library Staff. This step ensures alignment between the Friends Group’s goals and the library’s needs. Establish communication channels between the friends and the library. Often, a library staff member is invited to all friends’ meetings. 

    Organize Fundraising and Events:

    • Plan Fundraising Activities:  Develop strategies for fundraising, such as book sales, community events, or grant applications.
    • Organize Community Events: Host events to promote the library, engage the community, and raise awareness about the Friends Group’s activities.

    Promote Ongoing Engagement:

    • Encourage Volunteerism: Foster a culture of volunteerism within the Friends Group, encouraging members to participate actively in library-related activities.
    • Maintain Regular Meetings: Schedule regular meetings to discuss ongoing projects, assess progress, and plan future activities. Meetings should be open to Friends members and the community. 

    By following these steps, you can lay the foundation for a successful Friends Group that contributes positively to the well-being and sustainability of your local library.

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