How to Be a Better Friend to Your Library
A little support goes a long way toward keeping libraries funded and able to serve their communities.
October 15 marks the beginning of National Friends of Libraries Week, a time for library Friends groups to celebrate the important role they play in the health of their local library’s social ecosystem, as well as plan for the future and improve their work. In addition, it’s a great time for nonmembers to find new ways to give back to the library and ensure it has what it needs to continue serving the community. Fortunately, there are roles for everyone, member or not, that are invaluable to the library.
Attend Board Meetings
The library board works to guide the library, allocate resources, and implement policies to make doing so easier. Ultimately, though, the library’s purpose is to serve the community, so feedback from the members of that community is critical to its continued success. Even if you aren’t a board member, these meetings are open to the public, and sitting in on them gives you valuable insight into the direction your local library may be taking in the future.
Knowing this, you can then offer criticism as a community member within the meeting itself or sometime after, depending on whether nonboard members are given the floor during the session. Board members can use this criticism to understand what the community as a whole needs, allowing them to make more informed decisions on future issues and shaping the library for the good of the community.
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Check Out Books Regularly
As publicly funded institutions, libraries are allocated funds based on their contributions to the public. The more people use the library’s services, the better the library can serve that community, whether stocking more books or hosting more events. Checking out books regularly, then, is one of the best ways that you can ensure the library stays well-funded and can do what it was made to do. In addition, checking out books gives the library data on which books are popular, allowing them to stock up on books that more accurately reflect the interests and needs of the community they serve.
As libraries are nonprofit organizations, they thrive on the efforts not just of their staff but of their volunteers as well. Library volunteers can work in various roles, from simply helping visitors check out and return books to helping host community events. This is an easy way to build rapport with other community members and form new friendships while also playing a valuable role in the community.
Join (or Start) a Friends of the Library Group
For many public libraries, the support and funding they receive from the government is simply not enough for them to do the things they need to do. To ensure these underfunded libraries can stay up and running, many areas have a Friends of the Library group. These groups serve to gather funds, host donation drives, and encourage members of the community to interact with their local libraries. As a result, these libraries can do far more work than they otherwise would with government funding alone, giving them the power to serve the community in a far greater capacity.
Whether you choose to help your local library by joining a Friends group and committing yourself to the cause or simply checking out a book when you need one, your efforts to be a better friend to the library are invaluable and will undoubtedly pay off in the end. If you’d like to learn more about how you can help the library or how the library can help you, feel free to visit our blog!
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