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.”