Online resources about not-for-profit work are never in short supply. In our experience, that can be as much a problem as an opportunity. Why? Comparatively few of those resources are tailored to Friends of the Library work and issues. MALF uses this page to collect and share only the most pertinent and “evergreen” resources.

Have a question about Friends of the Library operations or best practices that is not addressed here? Contact us at or 651-366-6492.

United for Libraries

UFL, the Friends of the Library arm of the American Library Association, has crafted 1-2- page backgrounders around frequent questions, hot-button issues, and best practices commonplace to Friends of the Library across the country. For many, this popular Fact Sheet series is "one-stop shopping."

Dues-paying United for Libraries members have access to these additional resources:


Preface. Every library needs Friends. Whether you are a community member or librarian,
congratulations! By starting a Friends group you’ll be giving an important gift to the community. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Friends often embark on fundraising campaigns for special library needs. It can be a small campaign to help purchase new equipment or to bring professional programming to the library, or it can be a major campaign to support library automation or even a new library. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Library programs can be an excellent way of highlighting special collections within the library, bringing in new patrons, raising awareness about the library and all it has to offer, and enriching the lives of those who attend. Here are a few tips for holding a successful library program. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. The idea of an academic Friends group is not new. In fact, the first university library Friends organization was founded at Harvard in 1925. Friends in academia can help their library by raising additional revenues for collections, materials, and equipment.  [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Teens and libraries? YES! Teens can be excellent Friends and volunteers. It gives them a feeling of responsibility and a way to give back to the community. In addition, a Teen Friends group is a great way to nurture a love of reading at a time when so many other (and perhaps, less desirable) diversions are calling them! [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. A Friends group can have a truly positive impact on the school library or media center. Friends can provide a source of volunteers, a source of additional funding, and can be an effective pressure group when the library’s funding is threatened. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Over time, it’s possible that your Friends group will begin to stagnate. You may find that the same handful of people are doing most or all of the work year after year. Officers tend to rotate among the same folks. Membership might be dropping and you begin to have a difficult time recruiting new “worker bees.” This fact sheet provides some tips for bringing new life to your group. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Most studies show that at least 20% of Americans are illiterate. Libraries and Friends of the Library groups can make a difference, especially with infants and toddlers. Whether working to prevent illiteracy (working to get books to babies and their parents) or providing remedial help, the following are some steps to help others along the path that means so much to us. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. A great way to promote reading and provide a fun program for readers is to hold an author event. Authors are often eager to find a venue for promoting their work and readers always enjoy hearing the story behind the writing. It takes a bit of work to organize an author event; however, this can be a great idea if you are looking to bring a large audience into the library or a way to raise funds for the Friends. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. It is not uncommon for the role of the Friends and the role of the public library Trustees to become confused. What authority and responsibilities do the Friends have? What is the role of the Trustees? Should an individual serve on both boards? If either of these groups is unsure of the limits of their respective authorities, conflicts can, and often do, arise. Fact Sheets 10 and 11 outline the roles of the Trustees and the role of the Friends, specifically indicating where their work and communication should overlap or complement each other. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. It is not uncommon for the role of the Friends and the role of the public library Trustees to become confused. What authority and responsibilities do the Friends have? What is the role of the Trustees? Should an individual serve on both boards? If either of these groups is unsure of the limits of their respective authorities, conflicts can, and often do, arise. Fact Sheets 10 and 11 outline the roles of the Trustees and the role of the Friends, specifically indicating where their work and communication should overlap or complement each other. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. United for Libraries invites you to apply for a Literary Landmark ™ designation for any special location in your community that is tied to a deceased literary figure, author or his or her work. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Friends can make the difference between a budget increase and a budget cut for their libraries. As much money as you raise through book sales and other activities, a 1% increase in your library’s budget can add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more depending on the size of your library’s budget. Not only that, but many libraries across the country owe their new additions or new buildings to an effective advocacy campaign waged by the Friends to ensure community support. You can make a long lasting and significant difference for your library through advocacy. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. The quality of a Friends Board will determine the quality of the group. The Friends Board will set the tone for fundraising, inclusiveness, programming, and the quality of the relationship between the library and the Friends. Ideally, the board should act as a strategic leadership team to plan activities for the year and set up task forces to accomplish its goals. Here are a few tips on ensuring that your Board is as good as it can be. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Friends of the Library groups that are visible in the life of the community and on campus increase their ability to raise money and profile for the library. The environment for fundraising is competitive. It’s important to keep the work your group and library are doing “on the radar.” [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. The primary reason to form a foundation is to create a significant funding source separate and distinct from the regulations and restrictions that apply to any governmental institution. A foundation can establish its own rules, buy equipment or provide services for the library without regard to competitive bidding, committee approvals, etc. The library Friends group and the library Foundation are usually separate groups, but not always. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. There are basically two types of Friends members – “contributing members” who faithfully write a check every year because they want to support the library; and “active members” who serve on the executive board and/or are willing to volunteer for committee assignments and other Friends’ projects. Both types of members are important – “contributors” because their money helps you help the library, and “active members” because they help with the work and leadership of the group. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Branch Friends are becoming increasingly important in urban library systems as an advocacy tool and as a way to provide cohesiveness to a geographically wide-spread library system. They provide a special identity to their local community or neighborhood library. These are some tips on organizing these groups. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Strategic planning is a wonderful way to bring the leadership of your group together and design the future for your group. This is an excellent time to consider new goals and objectives and new ways of doing things. The planning process can be fun, and if you are creative and open minded, it can stimulate a stagnant group and provide a catalyst for new programs, ideas, and members. [DOWNLOAD]

PREFACE. A wonderful way to keep your group active, relevant, and reflective of the community is to work hard to ensure that your board is diverse. A diverse board will appeal to a much broader membership and will bring a wide variety of ideas and perspectives. In addition, if your Friends group is visible in the community, you will be showing the community that not only your group but the library as well is truly for everyone! Following are some tips to help you recruit a diverse board. [DOWNLOAD]

PREFACE. Friends work hard throughout the year to raise money for the library. Book sales, special events, and membership dues provide revenues that can greatly enhance the library. Given the nonprofit status of Friends, is there a legal guideline for how much a group should or must give to the library each year? The answer is “no.” Because government regulations regarding 501(c)(3) organizations cover everything from non-profit Friends’ groups to huge charitable organizations such as the Red Cross, it isn’t possible to come up with a formula that fits all nonprofits’ missions. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Libraries across the country are benefitting by their outspoken Friends groups. Friends have waged successful campaigns to pass bond issues and referendums and have used the power of their voices to ensure that library's budget isn't reduced or that it is increased sufficiently to enable it to meet the needs of the community. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. What is planned giving and gift planning? The terms “planned giving,” “deferred giving,” and “gift planning” are, generally, interchangeable. Charitable gift planning is the process of cultivating, facilitating and stewarding long-term gifts to charitable organizations. Libraries and Foundations should offer information on making planned gifts and make certain the donors are aware that their organization is, in fact, able and willing to accept planned gifts. [DOWNLOAD]

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Preface. United for Libraries is often asked if library staff should spend some of their time working with Friends, or if a library should share some of its resources to help a group be successful. Some have even wondered if staff time or library resources spent on Friends is a conflict of interest or a misuse of tax dollars! [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Most Friends groups are indispensable to the libraries they serve. Sadly, though, some Friends groups get out of sync with their library, their mission, and their roles. When this happens, trust and goodwill evaporates and relationships break down. Some groups have disbanded over disputes that should never have happened in the first place, and there are library directors who hear about these stories and vow never to have a group of their own. The sad fact is, when the understanding of roles breaks down, the library suffers. [DOWNLOAD]

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Preface. Even the most eager and active volunteer for your group can go “rogue!” It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be incredibly painful. Can you fire a volunteer? The answer is yes (and sometimes it’s the most responsible course of action), but with some planning up front, you may never have to. [DOWNLOAD]

Preface. Most active members of any given Friends group are happy, helpful team players. They have joined your group because they want to be engaged and they want to contribute to the betterment of the library. Once in a while, however, a Friend can become, shall we say, a little unfriendly. They may be a bully wanting to do things their own way, regardless of what the group as a whole intends. They may want to tell the library exactly how to spend the money the Friends raise, or they may want to withhold giving money to the library altogether. Or, they may just go their own way making singular decisions and wreaking havoc with customary procedures of the group. [DOWNLOAD]