Friends of the Library groups are a libraries’ secret weapon – one that fights against poor economic conditions, advocates for the library’s mission, and calls the community to action when the library faces scrutiny or misjudgment. Members of a Friends of the Library group may include teachers, former librarians, advocates for education, or those who just love to read. Each type of member in your friends group is an invaluable opportunity to reach out to your community in unexpected ways. Here are a few tips to work with your Friends of the Library…
- Tell them what you need and why. Communication is key in any personal or professional relationship, and dealing with your friends of the library is no different. The Friends are there to help the library raise awareness about key issues in the library and help find funding in unconventional ways. When you communicate with them about happenings in the library, the Friends won’t feel like an ATM for the library; they’ll feel needed and appreciated for what they do. This in turn will help them want to be available for assisting the library.
- Listen to their advice. Sometimes, the Library Board, members of the community, and the Friends can throw many new items onto your “work plate.” You may feel that you’re so busy that you cannot handle another piece of work to do, but if you listen to the Friends, they may be able to give you ideas on how to manage your work load more efficiently or they can help you completely change the path in which your library is headed.
- Share the results of your library’s programs, circulation, and other statistics with the Friends. Why? The Friends can share that information with potential funders and use it to request funding. They can also use the information to come up with new ideas in which to improve the library. The possibilities are endless when you share how well your library is doing with your Friends. When you share the statistics with the Friends, they can also share the facts when the library faces scrutiny or misjudgment.
- Invite the Friends to help with programs and events at the library. If your summer reading program is low on volunteers, ask the Friends if they could spare a few hours to help out. If they have time, they’ll most likely help. Or they might know of someone else who can help.
- Thank your Friends for all the work they do. Appreciation and gratitude go a long way. Hold a year-end banquet for the Friends and the Library Board as a way to thank them for all their hard work; it can also help bridge relationships between the Board and Friends, helping them to work together. Send out thank you cards to the Friends if they’ve helped with a program or an event. Give out small gift cards to local restaurants. Any little bit of thanks helps the Friends know how much they’re appreciated.
Use the library’s secret weapon, and you’ll make lifelong Friends!