In recognition of National Friends of the Libraries Week, October 17-23, Fort Bend County Libraries invites and encourages area residents to support their local library by becoming a member of the Friends of the Library organizations that support the library system.
Although the enormous amount of work that they do to support the Fort Bend County library system may not always be visible at first glance, the members of the Friends of the Library organizations provide invaluable support and financial assistance to the libraries by holding membership drives and book sales throughout the year.
The Friends of the Library groups are composed of many individuals who donate their time and expertise to support, promote, raise awareness of their libraries, and augment the resources of their libraries. They do this through advocacy and through fundraising (usually book sales).
In Fort Bend County, every branch library in the county system has its own Friends group. Library patrons may be surprised to learn how many of the library’s services and programs they enjoy are made possible by the ongoing efforts of the Friends groups.
Money raised for the library system by the Friends of the Library organizations helps to underwrite the costs of special programming and various cultural events that are enjoyed by children, adults, and families at the libraries throughout the year. They also provide needed funds for materials, equipment, and beautification projects not funded by the library’s budget.
Example of events made possible by the Friends groups throughout the years are the children’s opera performances by Houston Grand Opera’s Opera to Go program. Children all across the county have been introduced to opera in a way that was fun and easy for them to appreciate while they listened, spellbound, to musical renditions of Strega Nona, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and Daniel and the Dreamcatcher.
The Friends organizations are also major sponsors of the library system’s Summer Reading Challenges for children, teens, and adults, providing funds for programs and for the materials for crafts and activities. These activities have been enjoyed by thousands of children, teens, and their families across the county each year.
Many library programs for the adult crowd were also made possible by funds provided by the Friends groups. Nationally-recognized speakers on genealogy and forensic science have spoken to packed audiences at George Memorial Library. For many, many years, the Friends of George Memorial Library group was the major sponsor of the hugely popular Shakespeare-by-the-Book Festival.
Some of the items purchased with money from the Friends groups are used and appreciated by the public on a daily basis. Furniture and soft sculptures in the Youth areas at the Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch and at the First Colony Branch make an inviting area for children and teens to relax with a good book or research materials for homework assignments. Several branches have received technological support from the Friends groups in the form of things such as laptop and desktop computers, software licenses, cameras and Nintendo Wii™ controllers.
For information on how to become a Friend of the Library, ask for an application at any of the branch libraries. Information is also available on the Fort Bend County Libraries website, www.fortbend.lib.tx.us, by clicking on “How Do I… Support the Library.” You may also call the library system’s Marketing & Communications Office at 281-633-4734 for assistance.