ALTAFF Celebrates Fourth Annual National Friends of Libraries Week

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October 17-23, 2010

The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) is coordinating the fifth annual National Friends of Libraries Week, October 17-23, 2010. The celebration offers a two-fold opportunity to celebrate. Friends groups can use the time to creatively promote their group in the community, to raise awareness, and to promote membership. The celebration also offers an excellent opportunity for the library staff and Board of Trustees to recognize the Friends for their help and support of the library.

“I encourage the whole nation to celebrate Friends of Libraries and the work they do. I’m convinced that the libraries are so much richer for the enthusiasm and expertise that the Friends bring to the Library,” said ALTAFF Executive Director Sally Gardner Reed. “I hope that libraries across the country will use this week to honor their best supporters – the Friends of their Library – and use this opportunity to promote and expand their membership in this valuable organization.”

In a 2006 survey of members, 754 respondents reported raising more than $11 million dollars to support libraries with an average annual donation of more than $50,000. Eighty percent of respondents indicated they support their library through advocacy efforts with primary focus on local or municipal government and the general public. The top three goals were to prevent cuts to library budget, increase library budget, and general public awareness. Friends also support their library by coordinating programs, volunteering in the library, promoting the library in the community, and advocating for libraries on the state and national level.

Friends groups, library Trustees, and library staff can access a variety of online resources to help them celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week. Materials available on the ALTAFF website at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/events_conferences/folweek  include promotional ideas, editable publicity materials, camera ready bookmarks, ideas from past celebrations, and much more.

Also available are Public Service Announcements created by ALTAFF national spokesperson Paula Poundstone, in which Poundstone explains her “unbalanced relationship” with her public library until she joined the Friends to help raise money for her local library. “It’s funny that we think of libraries as quiet demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women,” said Poundstone. “The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Librarians have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed.”

“We’re thrilled that Paula Poundstone is using her celebrity status to help highlight and support Friends of the Library groups,” said Reed. “These volunteer citizen organizations work hard throughout the year to raise money for and public awareness about their libraries. Libraries would be immeasurably poorer without them.”

ALTAFF is pleased to announce a fourth year of financial awards in conjunction with National Friends of Libraries Week. Two Friends groups will each receive $250 in honor of outstanding efforts to recognize Friends during the 2010 celebration of National Friends of Libraries Week, October 17-23, 2010. Application materials are available online at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/friends/grantsawards/friendsweek. Entries must be postmarked by December 1, 2010.

For information on the 2009 National Friends of Libraries Week Award Winners please visit http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/friends/grantsawards/friendsweek/2009.cfm.

ALTAFF is a division of ALA with approximately 5,000 Friends of the Library, Trustee, Foundation and individual members and affiliates representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. Begun in early 2009, the new division brings together Trustees, Friends, and Foundation members into a partnership that unites the voices of citizens for libraries to create a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century. For more information about ALTAFF, please contact Beth Nawalinski at (312) 280-2161 or bnawalinski@ala.org.

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