By Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist at the MBLC
If you happened to visit the Shrewsbury Public Library on Saturday October 20, you may have noticed the meeting room filled with people exchanging ideas and conversation. On this particular day, it was the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Friends of Libraries (MFOL) association. This group works to advance libraries and provide support to Friends groups across the commonwealth.
One of the highlights of the annual program is the presentation of the 2018 Donna Forand Fantastic Friends Award. This award is for a creative event or activity above and beyond traditional Friends activities like book sales.
The recipient of the 2018 Donna Forand award was the Friends of Millis Library who hosted a Royal Wedding viewing party friend and fundraiser, complete with a lavish sit-down wedding breakfast tea with china and cloth napkins. Attendees were encouraged to dress up with their best hats and fascinators and have a moment on the red carpet with a cutout of Queen Elizabeth. A local bakery donated a wedding cake with the same flavor profile as the royal wedding cake.
Millis Friends’ President Sandra Elaine Scott and Millis Friends’ Treasurer Meghan Gavaghan were on hand to accept the award. In addition to raising money for the library, this high profile event generated buzz and local media coverage was able to raise awareness of what the Friends of Millis Library do. Sandra and Meghan shared that there were many attendees who were new to the library, and learned about all the programs and activities the library offers. It ended up being a friendraiser in addition to a fundraiser.
The Friends of the Erving Public Library received runner- up recognition for their project to establish a Little Free Library to be placed in a new park called Riverfront Park of Erving. The Friends purchased a Little Library kit, assembled it, and negotiated with the Town to have it placed in the new park on the eastern side of town. Any person who uses the park can take a book, or leave a book. This Little Library is part of a national project and movement with over 75,000 locations.
Rebecca Hubbard, the president of the local Friends group accepted the award and Barbara Friedman, Library Director, accepted a cash contribution for use for Library activities. Rebecca shared some of their lessons learned from the process, like start early if you are interested in having it be in a local park and be aware of any local zoning requirements. They were able to get buy in and generate excitement in the town, who was supportive of the project and paid for the installation. The Friends also ensure the library is stocked with books.
These are just two of the exceptional activities that are organized and executed by Friends of the Libraries. Congratulations to Millis and Erving for their truly fantastic Friends!