ALA Unit/Subunit: UNITED
Meeting Type: Program
Cost: Included with full conference registration.
This panel session consists of presentations by two academic librarians (one outreach, one administrative) and an officer from their library’s Friends of the Library (FOL) board of directors. The panel participants will collectively describe the roles they played and the steps they took in the FOL’s transformation from an inactive group with no clear direction, to a robust organization with an active board who have identified goals and strategies for successful library advocacy. The panel format allows the participants to compare and contrast the collaborative role each played in the revitalization, and allows for a rich discussion with session attendees.
The Central Washington University Friends of the Library group was established in 1961 with the goal of making the library a focal point of a quality education. Over time, the FOL membership and activity waxed and waned. With the departure of the FOL chairperson in 2014, the group fell into disarray, with no existing board members available to take on leadership responsibilities. Coincidentally, the founder of the FOL and library namesake was sitting on the board at this time, and began the arduous process of bringing the FOL back to life.
The goal of this session is to share the process undertaken to transform the FOL into an active, vibrant library ambassador, one which provides supplemental financial support for library initiatives, collaborates on events intended to encourage lifelong learning and community engagement, and helps to bridge the perceived town-gown divide in our rural community. This advocacy is crucial to the library which, in addition to being the campus library, is the Regional Federal Depository for central Washington state, and is open to use by all members of the public.
Steps taken in the revitalization process included:
• A board member retreat (led by a professional nonprofit facilitator) to set goals and an achievable timeline
• Rebranding of the inconsistent and outdated FOL image
• Creation of outreach tools such as an elevator speech, new membership brochure, and contemporary website
• Expansion of board of directors and strategic recruitment of new board members
• Improved communication with the library administration and university Foundation department
• Increased collaboration with key campus and community partners
This session will be of interest to library directors (public and academic), outreach librarians, and members and directors of Friends of the Library groups. Session attendees will learn methods and strategies to apply to their own FOL groups. They will be able to: accurately identify at least two areas in need of improvement; develop at least three strategic actions for improving areas of weakness and begin working on a projected timeline for accomplishing those goals; and identify at least three new community partners for potential collaboration with the Friends. Following the presentation, attendees will be encouraged to engage in conversation with the panelists. They will also be provided with tip sheets and templates to take with them for ongoing planning.