Friends of the Library Celebrating 40 Years: They’ll be there for you

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This year is the 40th anniversary of the organization, the Friends of the Library. Who are the Friends of the Library? The Friends of the Library, or Friends for short, the Lodi Public Library’s loyal tribe and number one fans. They’re advocates for reading and champions of supporting the free education public libraries offer. If you think about what makes somebody a great friend, that’s all the traits of the Friends of the Library. They’re always there, listening to the hopes and dreams of the library, and supporting those hopes and dreams like a true friend does. With a new Library Director on board, the library’s hopes and dreams for 2019 are as ambitious as ever! How do the Friends support the library? Through their bookstore, the Friends of the Library are able to cover the cost of almost every program the library offers, keeping that programming free to the public. “People misconstrue libraries as a place with just books and we are so much more than a place with just books,” explained Yvette Herrera. She’s the Literacy Program Coordinator, which translated from nonprofit lingo to everyday lingo, means she does just about everything that has to do with programs. From creation, to finding funding, volunteer management and sharing those programs (and probably a lot more that I’m missing), she’s your gal. No one appreciates how much the Friends do more than Yvette. After all, they play an integral role in making all of her programming dreams possible!

On this 40th anniversary, the Friends of Library are loud and proud, and they want you to know they’ve got books! The Friends run a bookstore right inside of the library filled with hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of books, and they’re for sale for low, low prices (think around $1-$3). Even Costco can’t compete with pricing like that. Here’s how it works: the community (you and me) donate books to the library. The Friends of the Library go through those books and keep only the ones in great or “like new” condition. Then, they sell those books back to the community. The books are all about a dollar, and the most expensive one I saw was $3. And do you want to know how much they have been able to donate to the library the past two years just by selling these incredibly cheap books? About $70,000. $70,000! “I always consider a good day of sales to be $100,” said Diane Freggario, the Vice President of the Friends of the Library. “On Thursday though, we sold over $200- and that was on a half price day!”

So what are the library programs the Friends make possible? We compiled a top 6 library programs brought to you by the Friends of Library through their bookstore sales.

  1. Paws to Read This one is a fan favorite. It helps kids practice by reading by having them read to dogs. The dogs are trained to sit with the kids and lovingly listen. “What we pay for for that the vet bill for the people who bring their dogs in,” explained Becky Hamner. “They have to have a certificate every year that their dog is healthy and the Friends pay for that.”

  2. LibraryCon This one day event started last year and was a huge success. The library expected 300 people and 1500 showed up! It is a comic convention and thanks to the Friends, it’s free to patrons and free to vendors. So for families who bring their kids, rather than paying a fee for tickets that money can be spent on something fun at a vendor’s booth. A win for the library, a win for families, and a win for the local small businesses and artists, courtesy of the Friends.

  3. Summer Reading Program This is another very popular reading program. “We have teen, adult, and youth groups so the numbers can vary from 5, 6, 7, even 800 signing up,” explained Yvette. Participants come in and read for 15 minute increments during the length of the program and there’s normally 200 to 400 people who finish. “They can be babies up to as old as they can be. It’s a really great opportunity for the community.”

  4. Library Cards for every Students This year the library has an ambitious goal of getting a library card in the hand of every single Lodi Unified School District student. This isn’t just so kids can come check out books. This gives kids access to the library’s huge online database which, for those of you who haven’t had to write a research paper in a really long time, is an incredibly helpful tool that can save students hours when writing papers, and makes a world of books available beyond what is locally available.

  5. Code STEAM The library is more than just books. The library is a hub for STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics), you know, those skills that are going to help make our youth more competitive for good paying jobs when they come of working age. During the summer STEAM program (an intense workshop), the Friends support the kids by buying food to keep them engaged during learning, flash drives, and help with supplies like Raspberry Pi’s (a small affordable -but still not that cheap- computer designed to help kids learn programming).

  6. Arts programs The friends also make a host of art programs free and available to the public. From classes on make terrariums, to designing beautiful, seasonal cookies, to painting kindness rocks and more, the Friends make all of this possible.

This is just a handful of the programs that the Friends support. So how can you get in on this and support the friends? Well, the friends want you to stop by the bookstore and buy some books! If the library is open, the bookstore is open. Come by on Thrifty Thursday and you can even get half off books. Continue to donate books to the library and, of course, be mindful of what you’re donating. Is this book really in good quality, a quality that you would want to buy? Or has it been just a little too “loved” already?  “Every time I help someone in the book store and they walk out happy my old librarian heart just flutters. Especially in the day of the internet and ebooks, when somebody just loves a book it’s special.” said Diane. Happy 40th anniversary to the Friends of the Library. Be sure to stop by and get a book and support them as the continue to support the library and the library’s amazing, free programming.