2018 National Friends of Libraries Week Award Winners

Friends of the LeClaire (Iowa) Community Library

LeClaire, Iowa is a small river town, located on the banks of the Mississippi River. Early in the 2000s, the citizens of LeClaire voted in a referendum to withdraw from a county-wide library system and have its own public library. Soon thereafter, a Friends of the Library group was formed, and became one of many organizations that contributed time and money towards the opening of a new city library in July 2004. While the Friends have recognized National Friends of Libraries Week in past years, this year they planned a much larger celebration.

In the early Fall, there was a multifaceted pre-promotion of Friends of the Library Week. For several weeks prior to October 21st the library website, when opened, displayed a banner that announced "Friends of the LeClaire Library/Celebrate Friends Week Oct. 21 -27". Events planned during Friends Week were promoted on the website, many including recognition of the Friends and their support for the library, as well as on Facebook.

And finally, on October 18th (just days before Friends week), an article appeared in the local newspaper highlighting Friends Week and the events and programs that would be held the following week.

Earlier in the year, the Young Adult area in LeClaire Community Library had been completely redesigned and reconfigured with all new furniture, shelving and new gaming equipment. Since the Friends funded the majority of the project costs, it was decided to have a formal dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony during Friends Week. The town’s Mayor and the City Council member who serves as the Library liaison both attended the event. The Mayor read a proclamation recognizing National Friends of the Library Week. However, perhaps his most meaningful words were his recollections of using the library in his hometown as a young boy.

Several special library programs were held during Friends Week. Programs for the youth included ''Pumpkin Decorating" and "Absolute Science." For a broader cross section of ages, a local author spoke about his book Time to Ship Another Steer and what it was like growing up on an Iowa farm. And, being near Halloween, there was a presentation about searching for eerie creatures - vampires, werewolves, and chupacabras. At each program, a Friends member was introduced by the Library Director and given a few minutes to make a short talk about the Friends. More specifically, they reminded everyone that they Friends fund most programs at the Library. Friends members remained after the programs concluded to talk with those in attendance, making sure to ask people to join the organization.

In LeClaire Community library, there is a display case adjacent to the circulation desk. For the month of October, the Friends displayed their "mascot" - a giraffe named “Stretch.” The display included a large collection of giraffes - toys, pictures, etc. The Friends solicited some longtime library supporters (Friends, Trustees, past Staff and patrons) to write a story about their involvement with the Library, and called them Stretch Stories. They received several great stories and included them in the display.

One of the Friends fundraisers is a twice-a-year book sale. Last year’s Fall sale was scheduled during Friends Week. This provided just another opportunity to remind more of the local community who the Friends are and what they do.

As LeClaire Community Library is smaller, it has been easy for the Friends to build a close working relationship with the library staff. As a way of thanking them for all their support, the Friends purchased gift certificates from a small delicatessen that is right across the street from their building. A gift certificate was presented to all staff members during National Friends Week.

Every year, the city holds a Halloween Parade called Witches Walk. 2018’s parade was on the Saturday of Friends Week; a member of the library staff participated in the parade on behalf of the Friends.

LeClaire Friends are small in number, but very dedicated. Somewhat concerned that membership was not growing due to loss of long-term members and not enough "new blood," they were pleased to receive ten new membership applications during National Friends of Libraries Week! With approximately forty existing members, that represented a 25% increase. And just a few days later, the Friends received a very nice contribution to its endowment fund from one of the new members.

For the Friends of the LeClaire Community Library, the National Friends of the Libraries Week celebrations were a big success!

Charleston (S.C.) Friends of the Library

The Charleston Friends of the Library kicked off National Friends of Libraries Week by holding its first ever Friends of the Library board Reunion Celebration on Sunday, October 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Old Village Post House in Mt. Pleasant. The Charleston Friends of the Library seized the opportunity to celebrate all of its past and current board members over the course of 30+ years, and to honor Charleston Friends of the Library Founder, Sara Breibart.

More than 60 individuals attended the Reunion Celebration. All were treated to wine and appetizers and the chance to mix and mingle with Friends. Students from the Charleston Academy of Music played string music, and Charleston Friends of the Library Executive Director Brittany Mathis led a brief program that included remarks from herself, Charleston Friends of the Library Board President Katie Norris, and Charleston County Public Library interim Executive Director, Darlene Jackson. In addition, words of reflection were given to honor Charleston Friends of the Library Founder Sara Breibart who, during her time with the Friends, developed a number of library programs that helped to educate and inspire the community—many of which continue to this day, including the Charleston MET Opera series.

Charleston Friends of the Library Executive Director Brittany Mathis surprised two Board Reunion Celebration guests with a bouquet of flowers, thanking them for their hard work and dedication to the Charleston Friends of the Library. Volunteer and past board member Linda Daehn along with Charleston County Public Library staff member Frances Richardson were the two honorees.

In addition to the Board Reunion Celebration, Executive Director Brittany Mathis created posters that displayed the names of all Friends of the Library board members from the past 30+ years, thanking them for their dedicated service and commitment to making the Charleston County Library system a community gem. These posters were displayed at all 16 Charleston County Public Library branches during National Friends of Libraries Week. A framed copy of the poster was given to Charleston Friends of the Library Founder, Sara Breibart.

Lastly, on Monday, October 22, 2018, The Charleston Friends of the Library created and sent an e-blast to its more than 2,500 contacts announcing the week of October 21st as National Libraries Week. The e-blast informed the public about the work that the Charleston Friends of the Library do in the community, and encouraged the public to participate in the celebration of National Friends of Libraries Week by becoming a Friend of the Library.

Last year’s National Libraries Week Celebration was a huge success. The Charleston Friends of the Library received plenty of praise for the first ever Board Reunion Celebration. Board members from the past who were no longer active with the organization expressed interest in getting involved again. Many renewed their membership, as they were inspired by the impact the Charleston Friends of the Library were making in the community.