Lisa C. Wemett, President 2014-15
As the newest Section of NYLA, FLS is working hard this year to gain a solid footing for those FLS Executive Boards that will follow us.
The FLS Executive Board has 13 members from all across New York, including Rochester, the North Country, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier, and Long Island, plus a few places in-between. We are striving to be geographically diverse in order to reach Friends groups in libraries of all sizes and locations. We meet by conference call about every six weeks and are looking forward to an in-person meeting later this spring.
Administrative Tasks: The Empire Friends Roundtable by-laws were updated March 2014 by mail-in vote (after close work with NYLA Parliamentarian Art Friedman). We are now addressing a by-laws revision due to our change in status as a Section. The obvious, of course, is changing “roundtable” to “Section” throughout, but we are also changing language to be in line with the Nonprofit Revitalization Act.
Publications and Communications: Our new FLS Leadership Manual is under development. Job descriptions have been reviewed and we have added a Communications Committee to convey consistent information to our members and the general public on issues regarding Friends of the Libraries groups. The committee will optimize the use of information technology to support Section events and initiatives by developing and updating the Section’s website, producing our newsletter, managing the Section’s social media tools, coordinating membership recruitment materials, synchronizing mailings, and issuing e-mail communications.
One of our primary membership perks is our newsletter, “Friends News and Notes,” mailed to members and e-mailed to non-voting members. Past issues are archived on the FLS website and a table of contents has been posted for each issue, making it easy to retrieve previous articles. Issues have grown from 4 pages to 8 pages with increased content over the past three years. Sue Swanton, who served as editor for the past 10 years, passed the torch to Terry Mulee, beginning with the December 2014 issue. In December, the Board voted to expand coverage to four issues per year (March, June, September, and December). Working with the FLS Board members, Terry has attracted new advertisers and added a discounted advertising rate by bundling the ads for the year, reducing paperwork on both sides of the agreement.
Membership: Our numbers continue to grow, with a 48% increase from October 2013 (89) to February 2015 (132). A major perk for Friends organizational members is providing non-voting member status for the elected Friends group officers. FLS has already benefited from the new library/system member dues; one director reported giving one of the library’s Associate memberships to the chair of their Friends group. We hope other directors may follow suit.
The FLS Section Update in the February e-Bulletin focused on incentives for community members to join their local Friends of Libraries groups. Hopefully NYLA members will share these ideas with their local groups. The Board worked with NYLA Executive Director Jeremy Johannesen to update the “NYLA Library Friends Administrative Support Services” document and are ready to promote this structure for smaller Friends of Libraries groups who want the benefit of tax-deductable dues and donations under the umbrella of NYLA’s own 501(3)(3) nonprofit status.
Continuing Education: After a one year hiatus in 2012, EFR again held “Friends Day” at the Niagara Falls 2013 conference where 108 people attended Friends programs. A needs assessment on the 2013 evaluation forms helped to select topics for Saratoga Springs and four programs and a luncheon for EFR were offered in 2014 with a total attendance of 150 people at the sessions
Thank you to Jeremy Johannesen and Mary Ann Waltz for assisting FLS in posting a needs assessment on nonprofit law for Friends groups on Survey Monkey in September 2014. We received 53 responses, providing good direction for our attorneys presenting on the topic.
The 2015 FLS Conference Planner Sarah Sachs has submitted four programs for the Lake Placid conference. Topics will cover mergers of Friends groups with library foundations, accounting for nonprofits by a certified fraud investigator, the Morristown Public Library’s plein air art festival fund-raiser, and a poster showcase of projects by several library volunteer groups located in northern NYS. FLS is pleased to co-sponsor some of our programs with the Library Trustees Association and other NYLA Sections as we did in 2014.
Advocacy, Awards, and Events: After it was renamed, the EFR listserv was “reactivated” as the FLS listserv with a welcome message from the president, followed shortly by an advocacy message to encourage members to log onto NYLA’s Advocacy Center to contact elected representatives about the Governor’s proposed budget. One of our newest Board members, Judi Campbell, was appointed to NYLA’s Legislative Committee. Several FLS Board members carried the “Friends flag” for us when visiting their elected representatives on NYLA’s Advocacy Day in February.
A lovely reception was hosted by the Board of Trustees of the Aurora Public Library in the Morgan Opera House on October 25 as EFR awarded the 2014 Daniel W. Casey Library Advocacy Award to the library’s Building Preservation Committee. Betsy Sywetz, FLS Secretary and former NYLA President, coordinated our Casey Award for many years. Our new coordinator for the 2015 award is Joyce Laiosa who is chairing an Ad Hoc Task Force to review the award as it goes forward under FLS. Nominations for the award will be due by July 1, 2015. Please see the FLS website for the application.
FLS is working on their Literary Landmarks™ initiative in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of NYLA at the annual conference in Lake Placid this fall. FLS is taking the lead, contacting the executive boards of the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage in Saranac Lake and the Almanzo Wilder Homestead in Burke (outside of Malone), in this joint effort with the Empire State Center for the Book. We are grateful for the generous contributions to this effort from YSS, SSL, SMART, and ASLS to support the costs of the bronze plaques ($800 each) that will be dedicated at the sites. The Wilder Homestead has also received a donation from HarperCollins, the publishers of the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” series. The Homestead’s application has just been approved by United for Libraries, the division of the American Library Association that administers this program nationwide. Watch for details about the Homestead’s dedication ceremony this summer.
It is not too soon to think about National Friends of Libraries Week, October 18 to 24, 2015. The dates this year correspond to NYLA’s Annual Conference. FLS coordinator for this event is Marie Orlando who is working on getting a state proclamation to help recognize the role of Friends of Libraries groups all across New York. Think about getting a proclamation at the local level for your Friends group.
We have accomplished a lot since November and hope to keep the pace. Stay tuned!