Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Do "Ya Gotta Have Friends"?

Our Public Library Development Team often receives questions about Friends of the Library groups. What state laws govern Friends groups?  What happens if a Friends group decides to dissolve?  How do you handle a Friends group that wants to govern the library?  Chapter 43 of our state statutes (the chapter that addresses public libraries and library systems) does not specifically mention Friends groups. There's no legal requirement for public libraries to have a Friends group - it's entirely optional.
Photo of Four Toy Thanksgiving Figures
Thanksgiving Friends (photo by Denise Anton Wright)

If your library wants information on Friends groups, then Chapter 24 of our Trustee Essentials will be a useful overview.  Another fabulous resource is the United for Libraries website created by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates & Friends, a division of the American Library Association.

The Friends of Tennessee Libraries recently published "The Ethical Dozen for Friends of the Library."  These ethics should be used as a model of behavior for anyone involved with a Friends group. The space limitations of this post don't allow me to quote the "Ethical Dozen" in its entirety but in a nutshell, Friends:
  • value public library services
  • recognize that they don't perform a decision-making role for the library
  • support quality library services
  • work to make sure the public has equal access to information
  • subscribe to and believe in the core intellectual freedom documents for libraries
  • support actions made by the majority of the Friends board
  • do not interfere with library operations
  • promote the library program to the public
  • conduct fundraising that complements the library's mission
  • follow legal, professional, and ethical practices in making decisions
  • serve as advocates for local, state, and national library issues
  • are open and welcoming to suggestions, questions, and communications
Many thanks to Don Reynolds, President of the Friends of Tennessee Libraries for permission to quote and promote the "Ethical Dozen."

Written by:
Denise Anton Wright, Public Library Development