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Greenfield Library considers Friend-ly suggestions

Foundation's fundraising dip has generated financial concerns

Aug. 6, 2013

Greenfield — Fewer new books and videos could find their way onto the shelves of the Greenfield Public Library if a source isn't found to offset the loss of fundraising dollars generated by the Greenfield Library Foundation.

One idea, among others, that may help pick up the slack is the creation of a Friends of the Library group.

Library Director Sheila O'Brien said the existing library foundation is fulfilling its 2012 commitments, including providing $10,000 for the collection and $6,000 for new DVDs, but it isn't making any new commitments. The foundation also sponsors the summer reading program and children's programs.

To enhance the library, the foundation seeks larger donations, grants and bequests. It also holds fundraisers, but it is finding fundraising tough these days.

Notable drop

Fundraising was easier four years ago when the library moved into its new building and the library had all kinds of intense needs, O'Brien said.

"But as the years go by, you're not so new anymore," she said.

Proceeds from some of the fundraising events have been disappointing, O'Brien said. The cash coming in from fundraisers sometimes barely covers expenses for things such as thank-you letters, postage for correspondence and stationery for the events themselves.

As a result, there are now fewer events planned. Last year, the foundation sponsored a contemporary issues luncheon, a battle of the bands and a performance by the Madcap Puppets, she said. No foundation events are planned this year.

However, the library's best fundraiser, the holiday cookie and bake sale will go on as usual, she said.

As a result of the lagging fundraising, the foundation is brainstorming to find a new focus.

Friends idea

Meanwhile, the Greenfield Library Board is looking into whether to start a Friends of the Library organization to help raise money in other ways.

Typically, friends groups charge $10 to $20 membership fees and generally have hundreds of members. They also hold fundraisers and sponsor performances, programs, author visits and presentations that enhance the library's role in the community, O'Brien said.

The Library Board is seeking to test grassroots support for a friends organization that could co-exist comfortably with the foundation, O'Brien said. Although their roles overlap, the types of tasks they undertake generally appeal to different people, she added.

"There is room for a foundation, a volunteer corps and a friends group in every library," she said.

The Greenfield Library Board formed an ad hoc committee to make recommendations about establishing a friends group and suggest a new focus for the foundation.

Some self-promotion

However, it mainly bypassed those questions and suggested instead that the library needs to reinvigorate public enthusiasm.

It suggested that next year's fifth anniversary celebration of the new library is the perfect springboard for that.

The Library Board agrees and Kathy Luty, board president, said, "The board is brainstorming ways to help the community realize what a treasure the library continues to be.

"We are exploring ways to use that event as an umbrella for a variety of activities to encourage community involvement with the library," Luty said. "We are still in the process of dreaming about possible activities and events."

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