Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting by with Help From Our Friends

Friends of Ashe County Public Library

Ashe County Library is greatly appreciative of its Friends.  Each year they work hard to raise money for library programming.  In fact all of the library’s programming money is supplied by The Friends.  Last year they provided more than $20,000 of support.  Their contribution made it possible for the children of Ashe County to have quality summer reading programming, as well as money for reading incentive prizes, such as books, games, and even a few Kindles for the teen readers.  In Adult Services, the Friends’ support helped provide health and wellness programming, income tax assistance (VITA), monthly concerts and art receptions for local artists.  Other library programs funded by Friends’ donations include: documentary showings, book club meetings, computer classes, and a multicultural picnic in the park where patrons experienced crafts and games in celebration of other cultures.

Friends of Ashe Library also contribute to the county’s On the Same Page Literary Festival, which includes the Community Read, hosted by Ashe Library.   Another big event hosted by the Friends is the Aylce P. Nadeau 5th grade Poetry Contest, encouraging county youth to discover poetry and written expression.  At this year’s poetry awards ceremony, the Friends secured North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, Joseph Bathanti as a special guest speaker.  Bathanti was able to lead an adult writer’s workshop for patrons after the poetry event.

In order to fund all these wonderful programs, the Friends maintain a used bookstore/gift shop at the library.  Last year the Friends cleared over $19500 dollars in sales.  Many hours go into operating the Friends’ shop.  This year the Friends documented a total of 4,703 hours of service.  Not only did Friends run the bookstore, but they spent volunteer hours recruiting at a county volunteer fair, reading to children at daycares, shelving books, educating patrons on how to use the new self-service kiosks for checking out books, and over 300 hours tagging the entire library collection for RIFD technology.  

Along with the Friends’ financial support they have participated in library programs in various ways.  For instance; joining the staff in a World Book Night Celebration that promoted literacy by offering books to light and non-readers, reading to children “Under the Maple Tree” as part of summer reading activities, leading workshops for teen writers, and several members even agreed to be cataloged in their areas of expertise as part of a Human Library Event.

This year the Friends have also started working with Better World Books to send excess donations in for supplemental income as well as featuring a link to BWB’s online store on their webpage.  A percentage of purchases made through the BWB link on the Friends’ webpage are credited to the Friends in a quarterly check.  
Each month the Friends host a program  that features an interesting topic, presented by qualified speaker.  These programs are free and promoted monthly by the Friends on a local morning radio show and in newspapers.   They enhance the library’s offerings to the community and allow the Friends an opportunity to recruit new members.
The public library is often referred to as the heart of the community.  Our Friends are the life-blood that keeps Ashe Library’s “heart” alive. 

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