Five Friends groups win ALTAFF’s Baker & Taylor Awards

For Immediate Release
Thu, 07/22/2010


Jillian Kalonick

PHILADELPHIA - Five Friends of the Library groups received Baker & Taylor Awards from the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during ALTAFF’s Gala Author Tea, held at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. Each group received a $1,000 check and a plaque to honor their achievements.

ALTAFF’s Baker & Taylor Awards recognize Friends groups for outstanding efforts to support their library. The winners of ALTAFF’s 2009 Baker & Taylor Awards are the Friends of the Johnson County (Kan.) Library, the Friends of the Seattle (Wash.) Public Library, the Friends of the Nederland (Colo.) Community Library, the Friends of the Castro Valley (Calif.) Library and the Friends of the Fitchburg (Wisc.) Library

The Friends of the Johnson County Library won for the group’s overall activities on behalf of the library in 2009. In that year, the Friends raised $348,994 and had more than 1,000 members. The group’s initiative, Tell Us a Story, invited library patrons to write testimonials of their library experiences, which were compiled into a booklet and presented to the board of county commissioners during National Library Week, and later to state legislators. The Friends also worked with the Foundation and library to create a new newsletter, Experience Johnson County Library. These extraordinary efforts in fund-raising, advocacy and raising awareness earned the Friends a Baker & Taylor Award.

In 2009, the Friends of the Seattle Public Library understood the possibility of looming budget reductions and undertook a successful campaign to mitigate the cuts. Rather than wait for the fall budget season to garner community support for the library, the Friends executed a year-round advocacy plan to educate the city council and the mayor on the value of the library. Using social media and other tools, the Friends group collected thousands of supporters. Thanks in part to these efforts, the city council voted to add $860,000 back into the library budget, allowing several library branches to stay open 60 hours per week rather than the proposed 35 hours per week.

The Friends of the Nederland Community Library group was a key part of a successful campaign to pass a $1.9-million bond issue and related mill levy increase for a new library in Nederland. A campaign committee conducted a plan to include, inform and motivate library district voters to approve the bond. The strategy featured an innovative approach, including a community survey, new website, eye-catching materials (yard signs, brochures, etc.), articles, advertisements, letters to the editor, fliers, e-newsletters, volunteer outreach and programming.

In 2009, Castro Valley Library opened a new building that was 20 years in the making. In response to this change, the Friends of the Castro Valley Library underwent a remarkable transition from a small but dedicated group of people to a newly committed all-volunteer organization. The Friends now operate a very successful bookstore and office and have a revised and enhanced organizational structure, a new and improved Circle of Friends newsletter and greater involvement with library programs.

The Friends of the Fitchburg Library is unique in that the Friends group existed before a library did. The group, which had no members with library experience, began a grassroots movement without a librarian to guide it. The goal was to increase awareness of what a library could mean to the entire community. The Friends developed a plan to give the city of Fitchburg a snapshot of how a library would benefit the entire community. As a result of those efforts, an advisory referendum passed, and the city council approved construction of a library. The Friends of the Fitchburg Library continues to “stand in the shoes” of the library until it opens in 2011.

The Baker & Taylor Awards have been given since 2000. Baker & Taylor is a leading distributor of books, videos, and music products to libraries, institutions, and retailers. For more information about Baker & Taylor Awards, visit


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 Jillian Kalonick at (312) 280-2161 or