New York Library Association Annual Conference: “Open Libraries, Open Minds” 

New in 2014: The Empire Friends Roundtable (now Friends of Libraries Section) provided several joint sessions on nonprofit law and library finances with the Library Trustees Association (  The Public Libraries Section (PLS) also co-sponsored the nonprofit law session.  EFR co-sponsored PLS’s program, “Walk Your Precinct and Activate Your Library Advocates,” with John Chrastka, Executive Director of EveryLibrary ( 

See the descriptions below with links to our speakers’ slide presentations and handouts.

Thank you to our fellow Friends, library trustees, and legal professionals who volunteered to share their ideas and best practices, ones that we know you will want to implement back home.

Friday, November 7

Get By With a Little Legal Help for Your Friends

Speakers: Courtney Darts, Senior Staff Attorney, and Judy Siegel, Staff Attorney
Pro Bono Partnership,  “Volunteer Lawyers Strengthening Nonprofits and Our Communities.”  (914) 328-0674.  To apply for their services, click on “Request Legal Assistance” on their Web page.

What does it mean to be a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization?  Our speakers from the Pro Bono Partnership provide free legal service to nonprofit groups in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  They provided definitions (nomenclature) of New York State law for non-for-profit groups and tax exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code.  Discussion points included forming a not-for-profit corporation, qualifying for tax exemptions, fiduciary duties, and the governance and accountability of nonprofit boards.  The New York Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013 was covered along with charitable registration, fund-raising, documentation of contributions, and managing volunteers.  Other online resources are cited in the end of their presentation.
Slide presentation: Get By With a Little Legal Help For Your Friends
Responsibilities of the Board of Directors of a Nonprofit Organization
What Must a Tax-Exempt Organization Do to Acknowledge Donations?
New York State Department of Taxation Publication 843: A Guide to Sales Tax in NYS for Exempt Organizations

Friends-Operated Bookstores

Speakers: Bonnie Shannon, Book Sales Chair for The Friends of the Kinderhook Memorial Library; Bruce Swenson, Bookstore Manager and Vice President of The Friends of Middletown Thrall Library

Our session focused on “brick and mortar” bookstores run completely by volunteers to raise funds to support their libraries’ extra needs.  Bonnie discussed the Friends decision to open a storefront operation in 2013 after many years of successful booksales.  She covered their considerations, the planning process, and cautionary tips in the start-up of a new store.  The Friends of Middletown Thrall Library support the public library situated in the renovated Erie Railroad Station in the heart of downtown.  Their used bookstore, started in 1989, is now located in the former freight house just steps from the library’s entrance.  Their operation offers donated materials for sale three days a week, earning more than $60,000 annually to support the library’s collections, programs, and equipment needs.
Friends of the Kinderhook Memorial Library Book Shop

Saturday, November 8

Joint Offerings with the Library Trustees Association

Both volunteers for the Friends of the Library groups and community members who serve on the library’s Board of Trustees have much in common in helping libraries survive and thrive.  The following two programs highlighted the importance of assisting libraries in reaching their long-term goals and objectives with a constant funding stream over time.  Together Friends and trustees can become strong allies and advocates for our libraries as they work toward the common goals of financial stability and sustainability.

Fund-raising with Annual Appeals

Speakers: Leah LeFera, former Library Director, Canajoharie Library and Arkell Museum; Kathy Naftaly, Director, and Lynn Shanks, Development Director, Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls.

Yearly campaigns that directly solicit funds from the community are a vital part of a library’s financial plan to supplement public funding.  Friends groups working alongside the Board of Trustees and staff administrators can reap benefits for all involved.  Canajoharie is an association library that is one of the least funded libraries in New York State.  The Crandall Public Library raised $32,000 in their 2013 annual appeal.  In a combined slide presentation, both libraries covered the “nuts and bolts” of appeals with examples of their mailings, raising funds online, tracking donors, and saying “thank you” in a variety of ways.
Slide presentation: Fund-raising Through Annual Appeals
Annual Appeal: The Nitty Gritty
Crandall Public Library Annual Appeal Letters: 2013;   2012;   2011.   Reply Envelope Sample 2013
Canajoharie Library and Arkell Museum Appeal Letter;   Reply Envelope
United for Libraries Fact Sheet #2: Fund-raising Campaigns
United for Libraries Fact Sheet #22: Guidelines for Giving

Library Foundations and Endowments

Speakers: Suzanne Stockman, Fairport Library Foundation, Fairport Public Library; Mary Muller, The Troy Public Library Foundation.

Foundations can assist libraries in reaching their long-term goals and objectives with resources that can provide a constant funding stream over time.  Separate organizations with their own boards of trustees, foundations establish endowments and manage large contributions and bequests. Growing funds, managing investments, and marketing the endowment to donors are all crucial for long-term success.  The Fairport Library Foundation, established in 2007, is a 501(c)(3) that manages its own funds and has faced several challenges in its efforts to raise money to help renovate the library.  The Troy Public Library Foundation is a nonprofit incorporated in 1991 to solicit bequests and gifts to support the library.  Troy has recently begun using the services of a regional Community Foundation to manage and grow their endowment.
United for Libraries Fact Sheet #16: How to Organize a Foundation
United for Libraries Fact Sheet #24: Planned Giving: What You Need to Know