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Being a true friend to the libraries

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By Kirsten Laskey

National Library Week will run April 13-19. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Join the Circle of Knowledge at Your Library.” In the Los Alamos County Library System, the circle of knowledge includes a group that works behind the scenes.It’s time to pull the curtain back on this group, known as the Friends of the Library.The organization was formed in 1978 to allow citizens to assist the library to meet its goals.Charlotte Stark, president of the Friends of the Library, said the earliest activities included book sales outside of the library, which was then located east of the post office. The group also hosted yearly book sales outside of Fuller Lodge and at other locations.When the current library building was being constructed, Stark said members of the organization approached the county council for permission to sell books in a permanent location in the new building. Hence, the Friends of the Library Bookstore was opened in 1994.The bookstore accounts for one of the three main ways the Friends of the Library makes money. The other two sources include membership dues and monetary donations and bequests.“We try to assist the library with fun activities or purchase equipment their budget might not allow,” Stark said. For instance, the Friends of the Library sponsor several programs such as the Battle of the Books, the free movie series, Authors Speaks presentations and art exhibits.A few purchases from the Friends of the Library have helped enhance programs. Stark explained that some art exhibits have not been able to appear in the library because of a lack of security. However, the Friends of the Library purchased glass doors to provide more security and allow more exhibits to be shown.The group also purchased the projector to screen the free movies at the library.Additionally, the group offers the Friends Endowment Fund, which has a long-term goal of offering grants to the library that will be raised through donations and requests.Scholarships are also awarded through the Friends of Library, such as the new June Ettinger Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, which is in honor of June Ettinger, who was a public school teacher and a supporter of the library, will award five $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors.“The Friends support the mission of the Los Alamos County Library System through the volunteer efforts we provide,” Stark said. “Whatever the library wants to do, we try to make it possible.”“Friends of the Library are great supporters for us,” Jean Moses, circulation manager, said. “They are very generous in supporting programs to the public that we wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.”She added the Friends of Library provide services to all patrons from young people to adults.Supporting the library, Stark explained, is a win-win situation for everyone.“We just want to help them achieve their goals,” she said. “If their goals are met, we all win.”“We should be proud,” Stark said, of the libraries.To become a member of the Friends of the Library, pick up a membership form at the bookstore. Membership dues are $10 for individuals, $15 for families and $5 for seniors.