NYLA eInstitute Webinar: Before Friends Become Frienemies

Thursday, September 30, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM



Hear some practical strategies to facilitate positive and productive discussions, working together to avoid potential conflict between the library administration, library trustees, and Friends of the Library.  We’ll discuss some common situations where the community volunteers and library civic leaders could conceivably lock horns.


Understanding styles of conflict and approaches to conflict resolution can help maintain good relationships.  Discover ways to avoid disputes through careful planning, development of a well-crafted operating agreement (Memorandum of Understanding), and drafting thoughtful guidelines for dispersing funds raised by the Friends to provide consistent, essential monetary support for the needs of the library.  Improving your communication skills will help build collaboration and consensus for all parties as they work together for mutually beneficial outcomes for the library.      

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Relate the basics of conflict behavior and approaches to conflict resolution
  2. Explain and utilize the outline ofWorking Together: Roles & Responsibilities Guidelines” for discussion with all parties (library administration, Board of Trustees, Friends)
  3. Formulate a basic operating agreement for the Friends, library administration, and library’s Board of Trustees to manage operations smoothly and guide the arrangements for a constructive partnership
  4. Prepare a standardized document to guide financial contributions from the Friends to the library


Melissa Tacke, MLS, is Director of the Castleton Public Library in the Upper Hudson Library System (UHLS).  She has chaired the UHLS’s Directors’ Association for the past four years.  She received both her M.A. in Women’s Studies and her M.S. in Information Studies from the University at Albany.  Melissa was previously Librarian/Archivist for the Schenectady County Historical Society.  As a member of the inaugural cohort for the 2019-2020 Developing Leaders Program sponsored by the New York Library Association, Melissa and her team members created their leadership project entitled “Conflict for the Conflict-Averse.”  Nominated by her library’s Board of Trustees, Melissa was the recipient of the 2020 Mary Bobinski Innovative Public Library Director Award from NYLA.  As one of the best libraries across America, Castleton was rated a “Star Library” by Library Journal for 2020. 


Lisa C. Wemett, MSLS, was a public librarian for more than 30 years.  She retired in 2009 from the Webster Public Library, where she was the assistant director and teen services librarian for thirteen years.  Lisa served as staff advisor to the Friends of WPL, helping the organization grow their membership numbers substantially over 9½ years and securing their tax-exempt status from the IRS.  Lisa continues to be involved in the library community statewide, joining the Executive Board of the New York Library Association’s Empire Friends Roundtable in 2012.  She served as president of FLS when the Empire Friends became the eighth Section of NYLA in 2014.  That same year, Lisa was the first recipient of NYLA’s new “Above and Beyond Award,” recognizing her continuous contributions to NYLA in many leadership capacities.  Lisa is now Immediate Past President of FLS after serving as President in both 2019 and 2020 and also volunteers as the FLS Coordinator for Professional Development.


Webinar Materials Directory

Before Friends Become Frienemies slide deck

Approaches to Conflict: the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument

Working Together: Roles and Responsibilities Guidelines

Keepin’ It Friendly: Communication Tips for Library Staff, Trustees, and Friends of the Library

A Primer on Friends Operating Agreements

Annotated By-Laws: What Should Be Included in By-Laws for Friends Organizations?

Guidelines for Expenditures of Funds Raised by the Friends of the Idyllic Public Library

Friendly Scenarios – How Specific Approaches to Conflict Can Help Avoid “Frienemies”