Friends of the Library

On behalf of the staff of the South Portland Public Library and myself, a huge thank you and congratulations goes out to our community and to the Friends of the South Portland Public Library for another successful book sale! From October 15 through the 19th, the library turned over the large community room to the Friends for their annual book sale. This year, despite some last minute complications that could have derailed the sale for this year (had it been in the hands of a less-determined group!) the Friends volunteers not only pulled the sale together, but also had a more successful sale than last year! This is great news for the library since, without the Friends (and in particular, the book sale) much of what we do here would not be possible.

Why does the book sale matter so much? The entirety of the library’s budget goes toward staffing, maintaining the collections and upkeep of our facilities. Without the Friends, we would have no funds available to hire performers or speakers, to purchase supplies for children’s events or refreshments for author talks, or to even buy simple items to help ‘dress up’ the library with seasonal displays and décor. If you have attended or participated in any of the library’s programs – the library offerings that go beyond the materials on our shelves – chances are, you have directly benefited from the work of the Friends of the South Portland Public Library.

In recent months:

  • More than 500 people have attended at least one of our “after hours” concerts at the Main Library
  • More than 100 families stopped by the library on Saturday, October 26 to participate in our “Pumpkin Patch Party”
  • In September alone, the library’s children’s department presented 21 story times and other special programs, enjoyed by nearly 500 participants
  • More than 1,000 individuals participated in the library’s summer reading programs – for children and adults – this past summer

All of these program offerings, and so much more, are made possible – and are free and open to all participants – thanks to the Friends of the South Portland Public Library.

Over the past few years, the programming offerings at the library have expanded significantly. Currently, our expenditures on programming approximately match the proceeds from the annual book sale. Continued growth in programming means that there will be a greater reliance on the Friends for increased funding support, which will mean a need to expand and/or diversify fundraising efforts. That’s where you can help!

The Friends perform a sort of alchemy each year, turning donated books into funds that help keep the library an interesting, active and vibrant place to visit. The most important part of this process is the people who make it happen. Watching the setup for the book sale is amazing – a small army of dedicated individuals (we see the same faces come in for this task year after year) swarms into the library’s basement and, over the course of a few days; the empty community room is transformed into a stuffed-to-the-brim book sale. However, this group of dedicated volunteers has dwindled some, on account of attrition over time and limited recruitment of new members by the Friends.

When I am asked how best someone can support the library, there are two methods I always identify – one, talk to us and give us feedback and, two, get involved with the Friends of the library. By joining the Friends, you are showing your support in a very real way.  Not only does your membership fee go directly toward the Friends’ mission of supporting the library, but your membership provides you with a venue for volunteering and supporting the library with your time (and ideas) to whatever degree you may wish to contribute. Information about joining the Friends group can be found on the library’s web site.

Kevin M. Davis, Director, South Portland Public Library

This post was originally published as a Library Links column in the South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Sentry on October 28, 2013

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