Where would you be without friends? You know the ones. The friends who always have your back and who support even some of your craziest ideas.
Well, the same can be said about the Library District. Our Friends have been supporting us since 1939! How’s that for a long lasting friendship!
Friends of the Library groups around the country are being recognized for their efforts during National Friends of the Library Week (Oct. 20-26, 2019), and we want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the great work that the Poudre River Friends of the Library has been performing for practically a century.
By 1939, the “Fort Collins Friends of the Library,” a nonprofit organization, had been established to enrich the educational and financial resources of the town’s first permanent public library. One of the group’s first major projects came about because of the popularity of the library and the need for more public space.
The Friends group, along with the community, advocated for an addition to be built to the existing public library (located at 200 Mathews St., now home to the Community Creative Center). Their successful fundraising and advocacy efforts resulted in a $60,000 addition to the Carnegie library building with the aid of the Works Progress Administration. The project doubled the space of the Library and included construction of a community room with a stage, three new reading rooms, a kitchen, and a children’s area. This space established the library as a public forum and community gathering place, which continue to be important roles of the Library to this day.
In this increasingly polarized world it seems as though we are losing our sense of community, and this makes the public library, whose mission is to preserve community, more important than ever. When I retired from teaching I wanted to contribute more time to volunteering in Fort Collins, and I couldn’t think of a better way than joining Friends of the Library,” says William Cobb. “Whether you have lots of free time, or a little, being part of the Friends is an awesome way to use your love of books to help strengthen our community, and to work with others who share that commitment. I especially enjoy volunteering at the used-book sales and watching parents with their kids as they fill shopping bags with books that they will share later when they get home. And those sales raise considerable resources to support programs like the Summer Reading Program, Fort Collins Reads, and National Poetry Month.”
The current Friends group, Poudre River Friends of the Library, continues the tradition of library support and advocacy, routinely contributing $70,000 from book sale proceeds, fundraising, and memberships every year to the Library District to fund literacy efforts, programs, and events including:
- Summer Reading Program
- Fort Collins Book Festival
- Visiting Author Series (with Friends of CSU Morgan Library)
- Fort Collins Reads community book program
- History Comes Alive speakers
- Cultural awareness and celebrations
- Harmony Music in the Round concert series
- Books for book club kits
- National Poetry Month
- Kevin Cook nature programs
- Library/literary conference scholarships for library staff and teens
- And much more!
In fact, Poudre River Friends of the Library has contributed more than $820,000 since 2008!
But this outstanding community group does more than just put on book sales. Their members also volunteer at the libraries to lend a helping hand with different projects, programs, and everyday tasks. Last year, volunteers from the Friends group gave more than 8,000 hours of their time to Library District activities at the libraries and out in the community.
“I joined the Friends when I got involved with the campaign to form a library district,” says Robin Gard. “The Friends are library advocates to the community, and I am very proud of the role we have played in informing the public about library-related ballot issues. We accomplish a lot and have fun while we do it! The amount of money we have raised and the volunteer hours we have contributed are truly amazing. We love libraries and literacy!”
How Can You Help?
“Our work provides a vehicle for literacy, fun, helping others, having a purpose,” says Julie Lechtanski, Board President, Poudre River Friends of the Library. “If you have a few hours available; we can provide something for you to do.”
Volunteer at the book sales.
Work a shift at the Friends’ Harmony Shop. Call the Shop at 204-8405.
Help sort books for the book sales.
Join the Friends’ Board of Directors.
Donate your used books to the Friends.
Like the Friends of the Library Facebook page.
If you’d like more information about the Poudre River Friends of the Library or would like to help out in any way, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated 10/2019 with current figures and stats.