This week I’ve been working closely with our local Friends group. They have been in place for over twenty years and they operate under the umbrella of our district Foundation. This allows the Friends to operate fairly independently, with their own bylaws, without the ongoing burden of a full 401(c)3. As an entity of the Foundation, our Friends group is allowed to raise their own funds. In these times of fiscal uncertainty, the Friends have been a lifeboat for our library, as well as our students, by supporting services well beyond those funded by the State. For example, our library is open on both weekend days funded in part through this organization. The other large project they undertake is an annual Textbook Scholarship program for students.
As the Library Director, my role is to be the liaison to the Friends group and provide a vision for the type of library we would like to have at Santa Barbara City College. The Library does most of the administrative aspects of the Friends, such as collecting money and sending letters and announcements. I also must cultivate a relationship between myself and the members of the Board. One element that is particularly important is I am in regular contact with the Board president – this makes certain we are on the same page as we move forward with projects. The Friends operate through a 7-member board alongside a wider body of Council Members who contribute annual dues to fund the projects. In order to help keep them larger body engaged, we hold three luncheons per year with a special speaker from campus – typically a professor who is doing something interesting or unique, but who also has a relationship with the library.
There are challenges associated with a functioning Friends group, but the passion and creativity of the Friends of the Luria Library has created a positive exchange. Simply because we are in Santa Barbara, doesn’t mean that our Friends are all huge donors to the college. In fact, the percentage of large donors among the Board and Council is very small. They are passionate about student engagement, student success, and the library.
Next steps…completing the Friends web site.