Libraries Cherish Their Relationship with Friends
Byline: Sarah Long
"Where there are friends, there is wealth," Titus Maccius Plautus wrote more than 2,000 years ago.
Friends of the Library groups are everywhere. Public libraries aren't the only ones with Friends. Academic libraries and school libraries have Friends groups, too.
There is even a national group, Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA). The group's mission is to motivate and support local Friends groups in their efforts to preserve and strengthen libraries.
FOLUSA has more than 2,000 individual and organizational members and estimates that there are some 5,000 Friends groups around the country.
Most Friends groups have book sales to raise money for the library. This is a logical activity because all public libraries must discard books as they lose popularity in order to make room for new volumes. Most libraries also receive donations of books and those that don't fit into the collection are typically given to the Friends for the next book sale.
Terri Meyer is the president of the Friends of the Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich. Last month, the group made a record $4,750 on its three-day sale, selling books for an average price of $1. The group holds three such sales every year.
Friends volunteers work almost daily to sort, organize, price and box the books in anticipation of the next sale.
Ela Friends also have an annual book review luncheon. It's held at the local country club and features well-known book dramatist Barbara Rinella. Local organizations and businesses contribute to beautiful, themed baskets featuring books, of course, which are raffled off at the banquet. Last year, the luncheon netted $2,000 for the Ela Friends. Meyer explained that all the money the group earns goes back to the library. Library staff prepare "wish lists" and Friends choose items to purchase for the library. …