Friends groups play a critical role at your library

By Tracy Ihnot


When you walk into any one of the five libraries in Delta County, you are sure to encounter librarians, busy with their daily work, and patrons, browsing the shelves or using computers. What you likely will not see is the very important work that goes on behind the scenes by countless library friends. Members of the friends groups are unpaid and in many ways their efforts go unrecognized by the community as a whole, but to the libraries they serve, they are invaluable.

All five libraries depend on their friends group to organize, plan, and execute various important library functions. According to Deb Imlah, president of the Friends of the Crawford Library, their group supports the library not only with volunteer time but also with funds raised from membership dues, donations and proceeds from their annual Cabin Fever Book Sale the last week of January. "We are very fortunate to maintain a balance large enough to help with expenditures for our library that the district is unable to cover," Imlah says.

Recently, funds raised by the Crawford friends have been used for new shelves in the children's area, a vacuum cleaner, a large, comfortable chair, office storage and supplies, program support and landscaping costs. "And, whenever there is a function needing treats, the Friends of the Crawford Library helps with that too!" Imlah said. "We make an effort to communicate with our librarians openly and ask how we can help them. Whenever they feel like they need something, we strive to make it happen. We all share the same goal of making our very special library the exceptional place it is!"

In Hotchkiss, a new group has formed that functions a little differently than the other friends groups. According to current member Sue Whittlesey, the Hotchkiss group originally formed in 1993 but was dissolved in 2013. As of June 20, 2016, several dedicated Hotchkiss Library supporters came together to form the Hotchkiss Library Friends. They are not a 501c3 like the other friends groups but rather do the work necessary to help raise funds that go directly to the Hotchkiss Library.

"We maintain the bookstore in the lobby of the Hotchkiss Library and have annual book sales," Whittlesey states. "Since our group has taken over the bookstore, the revenue has more than tripled on a monthly basis." Their big book sale happens during the weekend of the Sheep Dog Trials on Saturday, May 13, at Memorial Hall.

Despite the apparent success and obvious value that each of the friends groups brings to the library district, there are still many challenges that they face. "Our biggest challenge is getting folks to join and then to participate once they join," Imlah says of the Crawford group. "So, I just have to be really thankful for the long-term volunteers we are fortunate to have, and to continue to welcome whomever might be interested!"

To learn more about the friends groups or to join your local group, call or stop by your library today.