ALTAFF celebrates fourth annual National Friends of Libraries Week, Oct 18-24

Contact: Beth Nawalinski
Director of Marketing & Communications
ALTAFF
312-280-2161
bnawalinski@ala.org

For Immediate Release
October 20, 2009

PHILADELPHIA – The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) is coordinating the fourth annual National Friends of Libraries Week, October 18-24, 2009.

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.

“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 the primary focus on local or municipal government and the general public. The top three goals were to prevent library budget cuts, increasing budgets 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 in celebrating National Friends of Libraries Week. Materials available on the ALTAFF website at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/altaff/folweek/index.cfm include promotional ideas, interactive 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 third year of financial awards in conjunction with National Friends of Libraries Week. Supported by the Lana and Michael Porter Foundation, five Friends groups or libraries will each receive $250 in honor of outstanding efforts to recognize Friends during the 2009 celebration of National Friends of Libraries Week, October 18-24, 2009. Application materials are available online at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/altaff/friends/grantsawards/friendsweek/index.cfm. Entries must be postmarked by Dec. 1, 2009. 

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