News from FLS
Every once in a while, I have a “garage story” moment. Not a story on the radio about organizing your garage or even starting a business or a band in a garage, but one of those “sit-in-your-car-until-its-over” moments when the story on National Public Radio grabs you enough that when you pull into the garage, you don’t care if the ice cream is melting in the trunk with the rest of your groceries. You just have to sit there and listen until it is over: it is that good.
Late on July 4, I heard a quote: “the relentless pursuit of awesome.” I loved it! But I didn’t even know what NPR program I was listening to. I couldn’t find it on their archive, but with some very rudimentary Google skills, turned up a company called Klick Health. (Even after poking around on Klick Health’s website, I still do not really “get” what they do.) But what I did find was a very interesting blog post by their co-founder and CEO Leerom Segal entitled “Agency Mojo: the Relentless Pursuit of Awesome.” It was accompanied by an internal company video you could view about their organizational values.
All to say: how does this relate to Friends of Libraries? Well, CEO Segal highlighted quite a few cultural behaviors in that video that I think Friends should consider carefully: innovation, action-oriented, camaraderie, continuous improvement, and working for customers.
Friends are action-oriented and put our minds to projects and fund-raisers of many sizes and descriptions. And we certainly cannot get it done without teamwork and continuously looking for ways to improve these events. I like to think about all the innovations Friends can bring to their libraries and I’ve talked about ways Friends can continual support their communities in several venues this year: incentives and perks for Friends members (NYLA e-Bulletin, February 2015); volunteer service and its impact on libraries (Friends News and Notes, March 2015); advocacy (Friends News and Notes, December 2014); measuring success of Friends groups (NYLA e-Bulletin, June 2015); and the importance of continuing education and sharing best practices with our colleagues (Friends News and Notes, June 2015). In regards to the last topic, please also see the June issue of our newsletter for complete details on the FLS programs that Vice President Sarah Sachs has arranged for us in Lake Placid.
Beyond my messages and musings in print and online, I was excited to speak at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Irondequoit Public Library in June. More than 140 people signed up to get a glimpse of the new library still under construction that will open this fall. Decades in coming, this new facility will be a showcase for the community and a unifying presence as it combines two library branches into one. Nearly 80 members stayed to hear an annual report of the Friends activities and my talk, “How Do You Spell Friends? The ABCs of Friends Groups.” I honed in on the attributes of successful Friends organizations, going well beyond membership drives and book sales. Groups that are forward-thinking; reliable; inspirational; evolving; networking; determined; and steadfast. (If you string all the initial letters of those adjectives together, you spell F-R-I-E-N-D-S!).
Friends organizations may not always think about customer service in the traditional sense, but we have customers: our active volunteer colleagues, the library staff, the library’s Board of Trustees, and above all, our communities. For FLS, our customers have expanded this year beyond our NYLA members to museums in northern NYS as we’ve assisted them in becoming Literary Landmarks and to Friends officers from around the state that have attended our meet-up sessions in Rochester and Vestal.
The recent FLS election was our first online voting experience. I am pleased to share that a full 30% of our members cast their electronic ballots. We will be welcoming several new faces to our executive board: Janet E. Kreason, Vice President/President-Elect (Term: 2015 – 2018) and Lynne Madden, Secretary (Term: 2015 – 2017). Janet is a librarian with the Clifton Park - Halfmoon Public Library in the Southern Adirondack Library System. Lynne is a library assistant with the Victor Farmington Public Library in the Pioneer Library System.
Vicki N. Kosovac (Friends of the Hudson Area Library, Mid-Hudson Library System) was appointed to fill out a vacant term as a Member-at-Large and now has been elected to a one-year term in that position (2015-2016). We thank our incumbent officers who ran for re-election as Members-at-Large and who continue their volunteer service to FLS through 2017: Marie Orlando (Valatie); Susan Swanton (Rush); Betsy Sywetz (Richfield Springs); and Frank Van Zanten (Poughkeepsie).
They join me and our other board members who are continuing: Vice President/President-Elect Sarah Sachs (Potsdam); Terry Mulee, Second Vice President (Rochester); Marcia Elwitt, Treasurer (Brighton); Randy Enos, President Emeritus (Middletown); Members-at-Large: Elizabeth Olesh (Baldwin); Ristiina Wigg (Corning). The Executive Board is also assisted by Joyce Laiosa (Slingerlands) as Coordinator of the Daniel W. Casey Library Advocacy Award and by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich (Hudson) as our liaison to NYLA’s Legislative Committee.
We thank Leslie Riley (Cornwall) for her service over the past two years as Member-at-Large and hope we will have the opportunity to work with her again after her term ends in October. We are also grateful to Betsy Sywetz who has been our intrepid secretary for the past two years. (Anyone who is able to take notes of our conference calls, with fourteen voices on the telephone for two hours, is definitely “intrepid”!) We are pleased Betsy is willing to continue with us, laying down her pen, but serving in a new role as Member At Large.
One last quote I will leave you with from CEO Segal: “Good enough is the death of success.” Do not rest on your laurels; don’t let the book sale weariness leave you with a fund-raiser that is just “good enough.” Look for ways to attract new volunteers; switch up who chairs your committees so you get a new perspective on a task; step up to be a Friends advocate, “the voice of the library community,” at NYLA’s Library Advocacy Day. Don’t let “good enough” seep into your group so it dies on the vine. Keep up that “relentless pursuit of awesome!” Your library deserves it.