Libraries Society of North America 31st Annual Conference
Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland - March 20-26, 2003
Tuesday, March 25,
“No Contract and No
compensation: Friends Indeed”
Jack Robertson, Foundation Librarian, Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Beth Nawlinski, Public Outreach Officer, Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA)
Sara Lee Barnes, Director of the Library Associates, University of Virginia Library
Lee Sorensen, Art Librarian & Bibliographer, Duke University
Milan Hughston, Chief of Museum Library and Archives, Museum of Modern Art
Matt Wiggins, Library Manager, Jean Outland Chrysler Library, Chrysler Museum
Lucie Wall Stylianopoulos, University of Virginia Fine Arts Library
Jack Robertson opened
the session by explaining his objectives in organizing the panel.
First, he intended to explore some of the characteristics of voluntary
groups connected to libraries. What
are potential benefits in tangible form such as funding or gifts, and intangible
rewards like public relations or community out reach. Management issues associated with Friends groups were of
interest, too; for example, what types of formal structure work for
administration? What costs and
benefits do Friends groups entail and how can we swing the balance in our favor? His second objective was to invite a group of speakers
well-versed in this area to share their insight and experiences.
Finally, his third objective was to stimulate discussion.
marketing and public relations coordinator for FOLUSA (http://www.folusa.org/)
a non-profit organization affiliated with ALA, spoke to the question of who are
the “Friends.” Usually they are
public friends groups who provide direct financial support, advocate for support
for the library, encourage gifts, provide volunteers, and increase community
awareness. She noted that initially
staff time on the part of the library director is very intense until an
executive board can be formed to oversee the friends group. She suggested beginning with an operating agreement, a
contract delineating how the group is organized and establishing its purpose.
She noted that many Friends organizations dissolve because of lack of
understanding of what the library needs. The
group needs support from the administration and an implementation structure that
includes committees. She also
suggested a dues structure with a clear understanding of what is the goal, to
raise money or to increase the friends group. People are looking for something
in return also, perhaps discounts, events, previews, or other incentives.
Finally, she recommended applying for
501(c)3 status which allows people within the group to get a tax benefit.
In order to get a 50(c)3 designation from the U.S. government, the
Friends group must have a constitution, mission, and bylaws.
FOLUSA can supply bylaws information.
Membership in FOLUSA is inexpensive, $40.00 for a group of up to 100
people which includes a newsletter and tips on running a Friends group.
Sara Lee Barnes
became director of the Library Associates at the University of Virginia (UVA)
in 1996. She began her talk
with a brief history of the UVA Library Associates as a way of addressing the
moderator’s comments about the structure of an organization and its evolution.
The Associates have always had a strong tie to the Special Collections
library at UVA , one of 15 libraries on campus
The Library Associates was started in 1969 by C. Waller Barrett, who was
also a major donor to the collection.
The original Associates Board was composed of friends of Mr. Barrettt’s
who worked with Special Collections staff to help the collection financially.
Each year the Associates had two programs provided by the library, one of
exhibits, the other an annual dinner. She
noted that until the 1990’s, the Library Associates never focused on the
entire library. When state funding began to dry up in that decade, the
library administration and the Associates Board reassessed the organization’s
contribution. She indicated that
the annual dinner cost more than the financial return and the burden on staff
time was heavy. The administration,
however, did not want to lose the support being given, so they changed the
bylaws and constitution and kept the friends group.
The group was still called the Associates, but it became a purely donor
group and was placed under the library’s Development Department. She noted
that the Associates would now receive a full tax benefit and more programs.
Other changes that took place involved programs and included; changing
the annual dinner to a fundraiser for the library; asking attendees to cover the
cost of wine at events; library development office covering speaker’s
honorarium for exhibitions; organizing and developing special events for
students; expanding to have “Friends Readings” at the home of members as
off-site fundraisers; taking treasures from the vault to off-site meetings such
as garden clubs and schools; holding instruction sessions for members on the
library’s electronic resources; and the “Out of the Box” series showing
Special Collections in exhibits promoted by the Communications Department.
She concluded by summarizing the UVA Library Associates evolution to 30
programs a year and one annual meeting where members are expected to be on a
committee such as Volunteers, Programs, Development, etc. The library administration has now committed staff time to
formalize the structure of the volunteers.
She mentioned that within this year of budget crisis, savings to the
library have often come on the shoulders of the volunteers.
She suggested that much of the success of the Library Associates was due
to a carefully communicated plan of action.
It takes library time and commitment as well as a willingness to reassess
if it doesn’t work out.
Lee Sorensen, the Art
Bibliographer at Duke University’s Lilly Library (http://www.lib.duke.edu/lilly/),
talked about his experience working from Art Library contacts to a larger
library environment. Duke has a Friends of the Library group with about 100-150
members who prepare four programs a year to promote awareness of the library.
He noted that Duke is getting ready to build a new addition to the
library, therefore, no gift funds were going to Collection Development right now
and little was going to the Art Library. Traditionally
at Duke, no money was earmarked for individual librarians.
All potential donors were reviewed by the development office, and there
was no aggressive fundraising. He
recounted how he asked the administration if he could build a front end to the
friends group to raise money for Art History.
He talked about pursuing donor development with low overhead and putting
all the money into collections. He
started with one donor, the former Head of the German Department, who gave cash.
He reviewed his tactics in approaching donors, including stressing the
beauty and value of art books as well as the longevity of use and the chance for
a “naming opportunity.” He then
explained his marketing strategy, such as keeping donations low in $100
increments, having routine mail contact, providing book plates, offering ways
for patrons to check their donations, and creating brochures to market the donor
group. Finally, he summarized what
he had learned from the experience: find the time to offer “classic text’
sponsorship; people who buy art books are unlikely to support other kinds of
purchases; and be willing to take whatever their passion is and apply it to art.
Milan Hughston had
previously been at the Amon Carter Museum for twenty years and became head of
the library at MOMA (http://library.moma.org/)
in 1999. He has recently
established a friends group called the Library Council.
He began by noting his experience in museum libraries and the more
organic, less formal approach they take to funding and friends associations.
MOMA has seven departments of which the library and archives are one.
Each of the curatorial departments has a group of donors called a
Visiting Committee as well as a Support Group numbering about 30 people who pay
lower dues. Dues for the library
committee for a trustee are $2500 and there are about 20 members.
There is also an Arts Council of 2500 members who program events and
raise money. He noted that when he
came to MOMA, the Library committee had 17 people who met twice a year. He reviewed how he looked to a successful Library Fellows
program at the Whitney Museum and copied their strategy in forming the MOMA
Library Council. He noted that he
hired the creator of the Whitney program, May Castleberry, part time to organize
the group. Dues for the Library Council members were set at $1,500 a year and
membership was by invitation only. The
Council and the Library would publish a book every other year with a fine press
and had the complete support of the Director of MOMA and the Development
Department. By the Fall of 2000,
the Library Council had 200 members and the book publication had been a
successful draw. He noted several
events that had been sponsored for the Library Council members including an
evening with the Curator of Photography and the use of library materials in the
museum’s major Matisse/ Picasso exhibition.
He summarized his observations on the experience by saying that the
endeavor though successful had required a large investment of his time as head
of the library as well as an assistant devoted to working with the friends
group. The group places little
disruption on the library, but requires a lot of care and attention by the
The final speaker of the panel was Matthew Wiggins who described the Friends group he works with as Manager of the Jean Outland Chrysler Library (http://www.chrysler.org/library.html) of the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA. The library was added to the Museum in 1971. Friends of the Jean Outland Chrysler Library began as the Associates of the Museum in 1978. In 1982, when Mrs. Chrysler died, the Associates group became more important as a funding group. In 1996, the Associates were renamed the Friends and restructured as a more formal group. He reaffirmed the statement that an informal group without an agenda is harmful. He recounted some of the accomplishments of the Friends of the Chrysler Library including providing funding for the preservation of rare books, purchasing scanning equipment, producing a video on the life of Jean Outland Chrysler, co-sponsoring lectures with the Museum’s newly created Friends of African American Art, sponsoring the showing of films in the A. Kempton d'Ossche Art Video Collection, and providing the refreshments for the film showings. He did note that the increased awareness of the library had taxed the staff and budget of the library. The Friends have recently been recruited to endow one full time librarian and perhaps even more staff as a way to help the library in the coming years. He ended by saying that he couldn’t imagine the library without either their bark or their bite.
Submitted by Laws
April 30, 2003