Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Friends of Australian Public Libraries in 1998

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Friends of Australian Public Libraries in 1998

Article excerpt

An August 1998 survey of Friends of the Library (Fol) groups mailed to the 535 large and small Australian public library services received a 38 per cent response. Seventy five respondents had a group, of which 52 were active. Seven were establishing a group, and 123 did not have one. Total membership of the groups was 4798 with a median size of 50. Thirty four groups were members of Friends of Libraries Australia (Fola), and 115 of the respondents were aware of Fola. The activities of the groups were focused on advocacy and promotion, fundraising, and practical program assistance. Thirty nine had been of political value. The major reason for nonestablishment of groups was lack of library staff time

In August 1998 a single page survey on Friends of Libraries (Fol) groups was mailed to the 535 large and small Australian public library services to obtain indicative data for a paper Leading, fighting, persisting: libraries in Australia and the development of Fol groups[1] given at the second Friends of Libraries Australia (Fola) national conference in Adelaide 25 October 1998. There were 205 responses (38 per cent) to the survey questionnaire, which contained 12 questions, and provision for comments. Following is a numerical analysis of the responses, a range of the comments, and observations by the surveyor.

Does your library have a Friends Group?

Yes            75
No            123

Currently establishing a group 7

Number of members

Lowest five      2, 3, 5, 6, 7
Highest five     148, 160, 248, 300, 800
Median average   50 members
Total            4798


A number of respondents with large memberships indicated that only a core within the group was actively involved. Only one state library Friends group (Victoria), with 300 members, responded--it is known that other state libraries, and at least two university libraries, have large groups. The response identifying 800 members noted that this was an aggregation of members from three branches. The largest group reported by a single public lending library was 248 by The Hub Community Library in South Australia. This is a joint use high school/public library.

Are you a member of Friends of Libraries Australia (Fola)?

Yes         34
No          41


Some libraries and individuals noted that they were members of Fola, but did not have a Fol Group. One library had ceased belonging because `no gain was perceived from being a member'--a curiously narrow perspective, particularly given the small financial outlay for membership of Fola.

Is your group active at present? What are its main activities?

Yes         52
No          23


Activities described included lobbying, fundraising, promotion, booksales, literacy evenings, reshelving, book covering, housebound service, service to visually impaired, reading to children, local history, genealogy, poetry readings, telephone survey, digitising project, internet training sponsorship, library bag sales, indexing local papers, displays and exhibitions, assistance with special projects, newsletters


Several libraries without Fol groups indicated that they had volunteers who performed some of the above.

Has your group ever been of `political' value?

Yes         39
No          36


* Very useful!

* As a lobby group for our new library it has been invaluable

* Helped in gaining support for a new central library building

* Gained council support for a recent literary event as part of the Festival of Arts

* Lobbied for improved funding

* Helped us to establish public internet use

* Council has nominated it as a stakeholder in the strategic planning process

* Supported retention of the library's independence during shire restructuring

* They prevented the closure of a branch library. …

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