I’ve written on here before about the importance of Friends of the Library groups. Libraries provide their communities with a better future through access to information, books, and technology (and more), but Friends of the Library groups provide libraries themselves with a better future. That’s because Friends groups provide funding and volunteers for operations and services that the library may not be able to provide the community with their existing budget and staffing. They also function as advocates for the library.
Our own Friends of the Berryville Library, Inc., has provided crucial support for us ever since they were reestablished in 2017. One of their first projects was buying nice, comfortable chairs for our patrons. They’ve also helped us beautify our library lobby with nice shelves. They have paid for computers and tablets for programs that we otherwise couldn’t afford. Last year, they financed us bringing in the Arkansas SkyDome, a mobile planetarium and science museum.
Their most recent project involved sponsoring a mural project for the exterior of our library. The lovely mural, designed by the very talented Kelly Ramirez, was painted by James Abbott and Margo Free. Thanks to all 3 of them for their hard work! In honor of the late Joyce McMullen, who was a tireless supporter of our library, the Friends have arranged for benches to be installed by the mural. Placing a little free library/book-sharing box out there was the finishing touch.
All these items are something we can take with us when we relocate to another building. The pictures are from the installation process earlier this month and our dedication ceremony last week.
Thanks to Chris Bradley for designing the benches and the free library, Kriste-Le for organizing the design competition and overseeing painting, Joe Scott for organizing and overseeing the installation, Mike Ellis for assisting with the installation process, Michael Boardman from Carroll County Stone and Hal Hudgens from Hanby Lumber for donating supplies, and Mayor Tim McKinney and Zed Watson from the Berryville Parks Department for donating use of a back-hoe and time operating it.
You can join our Friends of the Library group for only $10 a year. That money–and any other donations–and volunteer efforts for the Friends go toward supporting projects like this that benefit the library. As you can imagine, it’s not been easy trying to raise money during a pandemic. But our Friends are still doing what they can to safely support the library during this time.
Beyond taking care of more immediate needs, the Friends are also looking toward the future and spearheading our capital campaign for a new library. (Stay tuned for more announcements on that in the coming months. 🙂 ) In the past year, the Friends have formalized an agreement with our advisory board to jointly oversee the campaign, and much of the fundraising they do also benefits the building fund. As we move further along with the capital campaign, the more crucial it will be for us to have a strong, vibrant Friends group to show institutional donors that the community supports a new library.
Want to know the best way you can help the Berryville library? Join the Friends! And get involved with the Friends! And volunteer for the Friends! And join the Friends board! And donate to the Friends!
And for our readers who don’t live here locally, you can still join our Friends group if you’re interested. 🙂 And if you haven’t already, join the Friends of your own local library. Friends groups across the country provide the same fundraising, volunteer, and advocacy support to their libraries.
Are you a Friend? Want to join the Friends? Have questions about what the Friends do? Tell us in the comments!