Next week is National Friends of Libraries Week, and we are so fortunate to have such great Friends! This year is extra special, as the Friends of Marin County Free Library is celebrating 50 years of financial support for the county’s libraries to benefit Marin residents.
It began on an early Fall morning in 1969, when a small group of library lovers gathered to establish the Friends of Marin County Free Library. Their mission: to encourage literacy; expand educational opportunities for the community; focus the community to support library services and needs; and, provide financial support for the county’s library branches.
Fifty years later, the Friends are still at it, helping to keep libraries vital, fun, and educational. Since inception, the Friends have given over $2 million of direct support for ten county branches and count 500 members among their ranks.
A large amount of that funding goes to the Summer Challenge Program, to foster reading among kids. This past summer, 5,063 Marin County children and 448 teens participated in Summer Challenge. Book clubs, art docent talks, lectures/presentations, family activities, language clubs, and STEAM activities for children are among those programs the Friends fund. Additionally, the Friends have provided libraries with shelving, furniture, carpeting, and landscaping, keeping our libraries comfortable, attractive community gathering centers. Without our Friends, our libraries would not be as vibrant as they are today.
“We try to mix it up and stay up to date by allocating specific amounts to programming/materials for items linked to STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Math), but we maintain a focus on the traditional and popular offerings,” said Virginia Schultz, President of the Friends.
They’d love to be able to provide even more to libraries as libraries experience upticks in attendance at programs and material checkout stats.
“We achieve our funding goals largely through memberships, monetary donations, and through purchases at our used book store, The Book Place. Everything at The Book Place is donated by the public, making it yet another way to support libraries,” says Schultz. The Book Place is at 1608 Grant Avenue in Novato.
Donating books, music, DVDs, and sheet music is one way to make a difference, but shopping at the store is a boon for bargain hunters. Used books in over 50 categories, movies, and music donated by the community are sorted and sold by more than 100 volunteers. A great resource for budget-minded book lovers, students and teachers, it often donates books to shelters, jails, or schools in need.
Staying current also means getting the word out to patrons, donors, and shoppers via social media and their newsletter. The Friends are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and their website, marinlibraryfriends.org, provides the latest info on sales and donation guidelines at The Book Place.
Show your support for the Friends by making a tax-deductible donation, or by becoming a member! Support can either be made to the county Friends organization, or designated to a favorite branch Friends group in Civic Center, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Marin City or Novato if you prefer.