MALF Member Wins National Friends Award

Congratulations to MALF member The Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library, winner of this year’s National Friends of Libraries Week Award!

As the name suggests, this honor – one of ALA United for Libraries’ most publicized – is bestowed annually to two groups in acknowledgement of standout achievements during the preceding fall’s Friends of Libraries Week.

This annual celebration serves a two-fold purpose: to give Friends a chance to promote their own work, and, just as importantly, to allow their home communities a prime opportunity to do the same! These are, of course, very broad criteria that leave plenty of room for customization and innovation. United for Libraries created the eponymous award to call out the most unique and impressive activities and programs.

The Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library proved an especially strong contender. They began by coordinating a kickoff event with the City of Grand Rapids. Mayor Dale Adams signed a special Proclamation designating Oct. 20-26 “Friends of the Library Week.” Library staff then unveiled a beautiful lobby display thanking the Friends for their many years of service.

It was far from a one-sided affair, however. The Friends went all out in promoting membership and book sales.

Mayor.jpg“During the week, we handed out coup ons to library goers for a free book at the Friends bookstore. This brought in many new customers. Once there, a variety of brochures and bookmarks on Friends work and membership were available,” said president and co-chair Carol Steele.

They also offered a variety of incentives for joining up (or renewing). These included a drawing for one of five themed giftbaskets. All told, by week’s end, “we had increased membership by almost 25 percent!,” Steele said.

United for Libraries will briefly recognize the organization January 27 at its Gala Author Tea, part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

And, in case you were wondering, National Friends of Libraries Week 2014 is slated for October 19-25. It’s never too early to start your planning!