La Jolla library offers something for everyone

‘Friends’ play big role in Riford library’s stability

By Emily Lupton


Supplemented by the Friends of the La Jolla Riford Library and donations from patrons, the library’s finances are “secure, indeed, bountiful,” branch librarian Catherine Greene said.

Although every bit of help is important to the library, the Friends of the library ensure much of its financial security through their book sales and events.

Donations of money and books are the Friends’ main source of income, according to Carol Haines, a member of the Friends.

They raise approximately $2,000 to $3,000 a month, which makes up about 66 percent of the library’s budget, Greene said. Annually, the Friends supply roughly $40,000 to supplement the $20,000 budget the city supplies for materials and programs.

As the city faces major budget cuts, some of which threaten libraries, Greene said she is relieved that the La Jolla Library need not worry about being affected. This is due to the fact, she said, that “the La Jolla community would scream and shout - they’re dedicated to this library” as well as the support of the many donors.

Buying books

The money that the Friends donate is used to buy books and materials for the library, many of which other libraries cannot afford to obtain, Greene said.

Members within the group agree that the library would be in a financial crisis without their support. In their latest newsletter, Don Geiler wrote, “Your membership and gifts help to keep your library at a high performance level in this era of city budgetary restraint.”

Greene said she believes that the Friends are the library’s “major asset” and that the library is “totally dependent on the Friends … they make the library more of a meal than an appetizer.”

Donors and donations

The group is comprised of officers, several board members and 30 volunteers who work in book sales and help with events. Some sort through the donated books and price them.

“We appreciate the wonderful patrons who donate,” said Beth Dowding, chairperson of book sales.

As you enter the library, you come upon shelves full of donated books for sale. In the area where the Friends operate, there is a back room with even more donated books, and special back room sales are announced every month.

Titles found in the collection vary from “The Da Vinci Code” to “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Bestsellers are cookbooks, history books and paperbacks, which cost from 50 cents to $2.25.

Beyond La Jolla

The Friends benefit more than just the La Jolla library. Books that are not put out for sale are donated to places like schools and juvenile halls.

“All the money we make goes to the matching funds program,” Haines said. The original amount is duplicated, half of which goes to the library and the other half to libraries in need.

The Friends also host luncheons and parties for volunteers and staff and special programs for the public. Upcoming programs include a workshop on how to write family history, a program on “The Effects of Aging on Memory and the Brain,” and crash courses for using research databases.

On top of financial support from the Friends, the library receives donations from generous patrons. The library’s newest wing, the Jacobs Annex, cost more than $4 million and was paid for entirely by donations, with the largest amount from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife Joan.

Those who contribute $1,000 or more to the library are honored with a plaque with their name and dedication placed on the wall of the new wing.

Becoming a Friend of the library is easy. All that is required is a donation of $10 or more. Envelopes to enclose your donation and information are available at the library. A similar membership form is available on the library’s Web site,