National Friends of Libraries Week

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by Jillian Kalonick, Marketing/Public Relations Specialist, Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) American Library Association

If you love libraries and aren’t part of your local library’s Friends group, you may want to consider joining. Friends of Library groups can be found in nearly every community and on many campuses across the country.  These groups, made up of volunteers, raise money and increase public awareness about their library.  Money raised by these groups support such important library services as summer reading programs for children, author events, special collections, and new technologies. Some Friends work with their local libraries to get involved in politics, lobbying for advocacy efforts such as increasing the library’s budget, building new facilities, or even legislation that affects libraries.

Friends of Libraries groups have their very own week of celebration: the sixth annual national Friends of Libraries Week takes place Oct. 16-22, 2011. Sponsored by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), the celebration hopes to raise public awareness of local Friends of Libraries groups, to boost membership, and ultimately, to increase advocacy for libraries.

The celebration offers a two-fold opportunity to celebrate. Friends groups can use the time to creatively promote their group in the community, raise awareness and 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.

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. “Libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community,” said Poundstone. “Librarians have stood up to the PATRIOT Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed.”

In addition, ALTAFF has partnered with ALA Graphics to create new Friend Your Library buttons, available in packs of 6, 12 or 18, as well as downloadable materials. The buttons, bearing two different slogans, “Friend Your Library” and “I’m a Library Friend,” are perfect for staff, Friends and anyone who is a friend to their library. The coordinating digital download set includes a variety of flyers and a brochure template that library staff and boards can customize for local Friends events and initiatives. These materials can be used during National Friends of Libraries Week, or throughout the year. Find the new Friends products, as well as the Friend Your Library poster, bookmark and a set including posters, buttons and bookmarks at the ALA Store.

ALTAFF is pleased to announce a fifth year of awards in conjunction with National Friends of Libraries Week. Two awards of $250 will be given to Friends of the Library groups for activities held during National Friends of Libraries Week, Oct. 16-22, 2011. Application materials are available online at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/friends/grantsawards/friendsweek. Entries are due by Dec. 1, 2011.

ALTAFF is a division of the American Library Association that supports citizens who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries. ALTAFF brings together library Trustees, advocates, Friends, and Foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century.

For more information, visit www.ala.org/altaff, or contact Jillian Kalonick at (312) 280-2161 or jkalonick@ala.org.

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