Friends of the Library Sections (FLS) Update

Submitted by Terry Mulee, FLS Communications Committee Representative

FLS Helps Libraries Start Friends Groups

When Judy Schewe became the new manager of the Naples Library in 2017, she wanted to get a Friends group underway. She contacted FLS and training coordinator Lisa Wemett who suggested that Judy ask her library system to offer the FLS “Getting It Started: Creating and Sustaining a Friends Group for Your Library” workshop. This would assist Naples and other small libraries in the Pioneer Library System that might also be considering a Friends group.

System Director Lauren Moore was willing to host the two-hour workshop on Friday, January 19, giving FLS the opportunity to offer this particular workshop for the first time in Western New York. Directors, trustees, and volunteers attended from other rural libraries in Pioneer, including Wolcott Civic Free Library, Bristol Library, and Pike Library. Some libraries with active Friends groups like the Palmyra Community Library and Bloomfield Public Library also attended for networking and support of their organization.

Twenty-two people from twelve libraries in four library systems attended “Getting It Started” in Canandaigua. Publicity efforts brought three staff members from the RIT Libraries and archives at the Rochester Institute of Technology to attend, as they work to start up a Friends organization on their campus. The workshop also attracted a local museum, the Antique Wireless Association, that is in the planning stages of having a Friends of the museum organization.

The evaluations were very positive, with 83% of participants rating the workshop as “outstanding.” Here are a few comments:

“Even though we have a well-established Friends group, [this workshop gave] some excellent suggestions worth pursuing as well as some ideas that may need to be incorporated into our by-laws, procedures, etc.”

“This program was informative and the presenter ‘really’ knew her ‘stuff.’ The friendly atmosphere and excellent tips made it an afternoon well spent. Thank you!”

“Great information and [the handouts provide] links to pertinent information on Friends groups.”

Hosted by the Pioneer Library System, twenty-two people from twelve libraries in four library systems attended the FLS workshop “Getting It Started.”


“Getting It Started” is just one workshop that FLS offers for regional training. “Keep It Growing! Strengthening Your Friends of the Library Group” is targeted at existing Friends groups that want to increase their membership ranks and sustain the organization long-term. Content covers tips on membership recruitment and volunteer engagement, networking within the community, and constantly sharing the organization’s message to maintain the group’s crucial advocacy work for the library.

Both workshops are for Friends or community volunteers, library trustees, and interested staff. If you want to create a Friends of the Library, or grow an established group to assist with their ongoing volunteer and financial support for your community library, these sessions are for you.

The workshops can be hosted by an individual library, a Friends of libraries group, or library system that is a member of NYLA and FLS. Sessions can be co-hosted with a regional Friends support group. Reimbursement for roundtrip mileage and accommodations are requested for the trainer. In addition, a fee of $50 is paid by the sponsor to FLS/NYLA.

Any further questions about hosting an FLS workshop in your region may be directed to Lisa Wemett, (315) 986-3949, or at

Note: the FLS Board has been hearing some great anecdotal evidence that these regional training sessions are making a difference for our members. If you attended one of our workshops and your Friends group made a change or tried something new that you learned about in the training, we’d love to hear from you. Send a note about what you did to:

Friends of Libraries Section to Host Webinar

The Friends of Libraries Section of the New York Library Association will present the webinar, Best Practices for Management of Friends Boards, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

Regardless of the size of a Friends group, if the organization has achieved 501(c)(3) status, there are specific accountabilities the Friends officers must meet to keep the organization legally viable.  In this review of nonprofit boards’ legal and fiduciary duties, Courtney Darts, Esq., an attorney with the Pro Bono Partnership, will explain ways to provide the best oversight possible for the organization, keeping Friends groups functioning effectively and using their charitable resources appropriately in support of their library.

Recent changes to the New York Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013 affect the day-to-day operations of the Friends, including transacting business by the Board, conflict of interest policies, and more.  Learn what documents should be kept in your board book, how technology can and cannot be used to conduct board business, and practical strategies for more effective meetings.

There is no cost to attend for existing personal and organizational members of the Friends of Libraries Section of NYLA.  When registering, FLS members (those active as of January 1, 2018) select an “FLS Member Reg Pass” that will  waive the webinar fee.  Please note: FLS cannot be added to an existing NYLA membership in order to attend the webinar at no cost.

The cost of the webinar is $25 for NYLA personal or organizational members (who are not members of FLS) and $35 for those who are not members of NYLA.  Group registrations are also available ($75 member rate /$99 non-member rate).  Interested participants may choose to join NYLA prior to registering for the webinar to receive the NYLA member rate.

Participants register for the webinar through the NYLA Online Membership Center to receive member pricing and a credit card is required.  Checks and purchase orders are not accepted.  Participants will be invited to send in questions prior to the webinar so that personal cases can be addressed during the question and answer period.  The webinar will be archived on the NYLA website.

At the conclusion of the webinar, participants will be able to:

  1. identify and apply the essential legal and fiduciary responsibilities of nonprofit boards
  2. recognize the effect of recent changes to NYS laws governing nonprofits and be able to implement organizational changes in order to be in compliance
  3. hold effective Board meetings for Friends organizations by applying the best practices addressed in the webinar
  4. determine standard operating procedures for updating by-laws and handling other management issues for nonprofits

The Pro Bono Partnership provides business and transactional legal services to nonprofit organizations including libraries and their Friends groups in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  Courtney Darts was appointed the first Legal Director of the Partnership in

October 2017.  She oversees their legal program, educational workshops, publications, and internship program. She also provides direct legal services to nonprofits in New York and Connecticut, focusing on nonprofit, tax-exempt, and corporate governance matters.

Prior to becoming Legal Director, Courtney was Director of Education and Staff Attorney at the Partnership for several years. Before joining Pro Bono Partnership, she was in private practice with Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and was a member of the Stein Scholars Program in Public Interest Law at Fordham. Courtney is admitted to the bar in Connecticut and New York. She is a graduate of Fairfield University and Fordham University School of Law. She also serves on the board of directors of Search for Change in Valhalla, New York.

For further information, please contact the New York Library Association’s Communications & Marketing Manager at