What it Means to be a Library Friend: By Vicki Kaufman

Former MBLC Commissioner and Friend of the Weymouth Library Vicki Kauffman (right) with MBLC Commissioner Les Ball.

As we celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week, we’ve reach out to one of the best friends libraries have, Vicki Kauffman. She is a previous MBLC Commissioner and active with the Massachusetts Friends of Libraries and Friends of Weymouth Public Libraries. We asked her to share her thoughts on what it means to be a library friend. Thank you, Vicki!

As with virtually every Friend, I’ve been going to Libraries since I first learned to walk.  As someone who’s had to move a number of times, the first thing I do in every new community is go to the Library and join the Friends, to support the Library and become involved with its activities.  I was fortunate enough to have been a Commissioner on the Mass Board of Library Commissioners; because I voiced my support of Friends activities, I was asked to join MFOL.  So naturally, when I moved to Weymouth, my first move was to join the Weymouth Friends.  

Friends organizations everywhere have supported Libraries financially – at times crucially making up for financial shortfalls in library budgets, or for urgently needed renovations and materials.  Friends are a base of both vocal and practical support, responsible not only for underwriting programs and activities, but energizing the community when support at crucial times is needed for votes from assuring municipal financial support to a new building.  Being a Friend is its own reward – not only for the satisfaction of seeing the Library benefit from our work, but for discovering a wonderful circle of new friends, because Library folks are great!

Want to meet more friends? Come to the Massachusetts Friends of Libraries Annual Meeting and program on Saturday October 26, 2019 at South Hadley Public Library. Sign up today: 


One of the Greatest Friends of Library Book Sales on Earth

Massachusetts has a lot of impressive Friends of Libraries groups that put on great book sales throughout the year. However, what happens at the Needham Public Library’s Book Sale is truly special, making it in my opinion, one of the greatest Friends of Library book sales on earth! In 2017, the Needham book sales made $91,000 to support library services, setting a new record.

Here are their three keys to success:

  1. Have an Incredible Friends group
  2. Keep a dedicated space
  3. Have online sales that keep you going year-round.

The Friends are responsible for the sales’ great reputation

Pictured below are just some of the Friends who make the sale a success. This group is very active and puts in a lot of hard work to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The Friends not only operate the weekend sale, they have also developed a process for the ongoing and online sales.  One of the most important roles they have is ensuring the quality and the variety of the books that are for sale. They’re all previously owned books, but they’re in “like new” condition.  This is important because after 10 years of running the sale, it has a growing reputation has a great place to go for a variety of books at an unbeatable price.

Space is the key

The Friends need the space for two reasons, the ongoing sale and for the group’s ability to accept and store donations. The Friends ongoing book shop (pictured below) is given a high-visibility location next to the circulation desk. People shop year-round for great bargains and can pay for the books at the circulation desk.

The Friends group also has a large storage area (pictured below) in the upper floor of the library. This space was designed intentionally for this purpose when Needham built its new library.  It gives the Friends the space they need to store donations, but it’s also where they sort and store books for online sales through Amazon.

Amazon Keeps the Sale Going

Online sales are a big part of what makes the Needham Book Sale so successful. It means they can be selling books and raising money even when the library is closed. Books are listed on Amazon and can be accessed by shoppers who search the title. Although this is a large undertaking, all of the hard work pays off by expanding the network of potential book buyers worldwide.

A lot of hard work and dedication goes into making the Needham Library book sale such a great success. There were lots of happy customers excited to read their newly discovered book purchases. The great part of any library book sale is you never know what you’ll find, and that’s what keeps people coming back.

Celebrate National Friends of Libraries Week!

By Maura Deedy, Library Advisory Specialist at the MBLC

We are thrilled to kick off National Friends of Libraries Week. This is an opportunity for libraries to celebrate the role of the friend. Friends advocate, fundraise, champion, and promote the library in their communities.

In 2018, libraries reported over 59,000 library friends at 308 libraries. These are the people who understand and value the importance of the library in their community. Some friends groups have less than ten people, and others count up to 1000 members! What they have in common is that they are passionate about their local library.

These organizations are usually private 501c3 groups with their own board and officers. A friends group will engage in membership drives, book sales and other activities to help raise funds to supplement the municipal budget. Maybe you’ve been to a local book sale or perused a cart tucked near the circulation desk. Donated books sold by friends groups help provide direct financial support. Friends purchase museum passes, furniture, and sponsor summer reading programs, cook book clubs and more.

Friends can play an important role in advocating for the library to local and state officials. They are able to leverage their voice and knowledge of the library, and help tell the library story to ensure adequate funding is needed. Friends can also play a key role in any local bond or ballot votes, overrides and more. The Massachusetts Friends of Libraries is an association formed to provide leadership on issues of regional, state and national concern to libraries, including encouraging and assisting in the formation and continued growth of Friends of Libraries. They promote awareness on library issues and advocate for state funding to libraries through the Commonwealth. Visit https://libraries.state.ma.us/pages/friends-of-libraries-week-19 to learn more about Friends groups in Massachusetts.

National Friends of Libraries Week is coordinated by United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association with approximately 4,000 personal and group members representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. United for Libraries supports those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries, and brings together library trustees, advocates, friends, and foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century.