For immediate release | January 21, 2011

Two Friends groups win ALTAFF’s National Friends of Libraries Week Awards

PHILADELPHIA – Friends of the San Benito County (Calif.) Free Library and Friends of the Ennis (Texas) Public Library were recognized for winning the 2010 National Friends of Libraries Week Awards by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) during the ALTAFF Gala Author Tea, held during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in San Diego. Each group received a $250 check and a certificate.

The two groups were recognized for creativity and innovation; involvement of Friends, library staff, Trustees and/or advisory committee; recognition of the Friends group; and promotion of the Friends group to the community during National Friends of Libraries Week, Oct. 17-23, 2010. In addition, the Friends of the Rains County (Texas) Public Library and the Friends of the Joliet (Mont.) Public Library were recognized with honorable mentions.

Friends of the San Benito County Free Library celebrated its 30th anniversary during National Friends of Libraries Week. The Friends held an essay contest for junior high and high school students on why the library was their “best friend.” The two essay contest winners, Riley Scherr and Mia Vodanovich, were welcomed with their families, along with local politicians, Friends, library users, library staff and the county librarian. The winners were each presented with a framed certificate and $100. All students who entered the contest were given participatory certificates and a Friends bookbag. Refreshments were served and guitar music was provided by two local musicians. In addition, the Friends gave tours of the library and the bookmobile.

Friends of the Ennis Public Library organized an awareness campaign for National Friends of Libraries Week that included a first-ever Friends Fair to promote 16 ongoing Friends-sponsored library activities and programs and introduce Friends members to the community. Mayor Pro Tem Bob Taylor read a proclamation from Mayor Russell Thomas declaring Oct. 17-23 Friends of the Library Week in Ennis. City officials and other guests gathered at 16 stations in the library that described Friends-sponsored activities and programs, including bridge, chess, Books for Babies, the summer reading program, Teen Read, Family Night and the book sale. During the fair, a PowerPoint presentation prepared by library staff showed the Friends’ early years, history and growth. On Oct. 21, the Friends provided a barbecue lunch for Ennis Library staff.

The Friends of the Rains County Public Library celebrated National Friends of Libraries Week with a proclamation by the Rains County Court of Commissioners. The proclamation was framed and hung in the Meadows Cultural Center, a room that the Friends have transformed into a local art gallery and meeting room. Membership increased by 10 percent over the week. On Thurs., Oct. 21, Dave Ehlert from Hot Hits Theater performed "An Evening with Mark Twain" at Rains County’s historic courthouse. The performance was free to all Friends of the Library members, or anyone who had a Rains County Public Library card. The Friends, along with the library, paid for half the performer’s fee, in conjunction with a rural library literature grant. More than 175 people attended the performance. In addition, a video was created for Friends’ sponsors and prospective sponsors to show them the positive effect the Friends group has made in bringing art and literacy to Rains County.

The Friends of the Joliet Public Library celebrated National Friends of Libraries Week with a “Fall Roundup and Membership Drive.” The slogan was “Cowboy Up and Join the Friends.” Joliet is rural community with a population of 650. Though a Friends organization was established in 2004, an inventory of its members had never existed. Hoping to revitalize the organization, the Friends board established a list of committed Friends who would respond to the rallying cry “Ride for the Brand.” Two “Roundup Receptions” were held during the week. All patrons, staff and library Board of Trustee members were invited to join the drive, and everyone within 30 miles was encouraged to “saddle up for the ride of a lifetime.” Those who joined were given a chocolate “Cow Paddie” and entered into the “Cow-Pie-of-the-Month” drawing. They were also given “Cow Chips” or “Moolah” to spend at the Used Book Barn, opening in 2011.

National Friends of Libraries Week 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. The next National Friends of Libraries Week will be celebrated Oct. 16-22, 2011. For more information and resources, visit

ALTAFF is a division of the American Library Association begun in 2009 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, or contact Jillian Kalonick at (312) 280-2161 or


Jillian Kalonick