By Ashley Mackin
The definition most people have for the word “friend” probably has a lot of components to it. To name a few, friends care, they’re supportive, they offer input, and they may give money every once in a while. But they get something in return, too.
The same applies to Friends of the La Jolla Library, who number about 100. To be a “Friend” of the library is to contribute a set amount every year (starting at $10) to support the library and its many programs. In 2013, members and donations totaled about $24,000. The Friends also receive $4,000-$5,000 each month from the ongoing used book sale they operate at the library.
Increasing the number of Friends is a goal for the 2014-2015 board of directors, who talked about some of the feel-good incentives at a March 19 meeting.
“There are things, like the Friends Reception, that we offer to supporters,” said former membership chair Kathleen Harrison. The annual event is a way to thank friends with food, drinks and entertainment, plus an opportunity to see how the library operates behind the scenes.
The free programs provided by the library — such as the yoga classes, toddler story times, writing groups, computer classes, movie screenings with popcorn, and the popular LEGO Club (which has an average of 20 children participating each week) — are all possible because of Friends’ membership funds.
For one participant of the Computer Help Lab (11 a.m. Fridays), the free programs are “an absolute godsend.” Although former La Jollan Deyon Vanderweele said she moved to Clairemont six months ago, she still comes to the La Jolla library for its programs.
“I don’t have a computer at home, but it seems I can’t live without one. I don’t know what I’m doing technically now, but I will soon,” she said. “Having an instructor right here to answer questions is great.”
Of the many events, Head Librarian Catherine Greene told
La Jolla Light
, “We believe the library has cultural responsibilities to the community, so we want our programs to reflect that. We try to offer things people want to do that are not going on somewhere else nearby. If no one shows up, we know there isn’t the want (and we move on to something new).”
Adding that the Friends are “amazingly helpful and very supportive,” she said Friends contributions help make the library what it is. Greene said in the last 10 years, the City of San Diego had to cut library hours and staff. As a result, one full-time library assistant was laid off, the full-time youth librarian became part-time, and operating hours were cut. The Friends rallied together and contributed enough cash to pay the salary of a full-time library assistant and return the part-time youth librarian to full time. “It’s been really great,” she said.
Furthermore, Arlene Powers, co-chair of the Friends Art Committee said the quarterly art exhibitions (and sales) offered in the community room “could not be done without the support of the Friends.”
Powers said Friends’ funding paid for the wall covering in the room, where concerts are also held, so that the sound is confined, but art can be hung on the walls, too.
The Friends produce and host the art shows. Their next juried exhibition has the theme “The Child,” which has (thus far) received 90 submissions of photos, paintings and mixed media celebrating youth. There will be a free, public reception for “The Child,” 2 p.m. Sunday, April 6 at the library, 7555 Draper Ave.
As an honorary entry, an enlarged image of Greene’s father as a child, lying in the grass reading a book to his stuffed animals, will be on display. Upon hearing the announcement, Greene exclaimed, “My father would be tickled!”
A board of directors that serve three-year terms manages the Friends’ membership and library programs. At the March 19 meeting, its officers were elected. These are: President Bill Boehm, Vice-President Sallie Warren, Recording Secretary and Assistant Treasurer Jim Stewart, Corresponding Secretary Moreen Fielden, and Treasurer Mark Leinenweber.
Former president Susan Middleton will serve as past president. Coming off two consecutive terms, Middleton was honored at the meeting with flowers and a gift from board members.
Friends Membership Levels
■ Individual: $10 a year
■ Family Member: $25 a year
■ Book Lover: $100-$249 a year
■ Book Collector: $250 a year
■ Patron: $500 a year
■ Number of Friends: More than 100
How to Become a Friend
■ In person: Stop by the library at 7555 Draper Ave.
■ Information: (858) 552-1657