By Kristin Anderson, Ashland Branch Manager
Who are our Friends, besides, well, friends?…And why do we have so many Friends? We have a Friends group that is affiliated with each of our 15 library locations.
Friends groups are critical to library success in many ways. They are separate entities, which gives them the ability to advocate for libraries in ways that the library itself cannot. In particular they are of critical import when there is an issue on the ballot for library funding that needs to get passed. Friends groups can campaign for the library. The library, itself, cannot. The Friends groups throughout Jackson County played a huge part in supporting the establishment of the Jackson County Library District. We have the stable library system we have today due in large part to their efforts. Through these efforts, an elected Library District Board was created, which sets library policies and governs the actual operations of the branches… so, the Friends don’t run the libraries themselves, but they were hugely critical in ensuring that the County has libraries into the future. For this, all of us who work for Jackson County Library Services and live in the County are grateful!
On top of this important advocacy work, our Friends groups do fundraising for the library system in all sorts of ways. The most visible way this happens is through our library books sales, but there are other creative ways our Friends raise money to support library initiatives. Friends membership dues also support Friends functions. Silent auctions and Holiday Boutique events have also been used in pre-pandemic times to support Friends initiatives. These funds have supported our innovative programs over the years. From crafts (both in-person and Take & Make varieties) to refreshments at programs to paying for outside presenters our Friends help make the library mission come to life.
While the function of fundraising for capital improvements comes primarily from the Jackson County Library Foundation, some Friends groups have cash reserves such that they are able to contribute to large-scale capital improvements when the District identifies such needs. Currently, The Friends of the Ashland Library are supporting a renovation to the lower level where the meeting rooms are located. This refurbished space should be able to reopen to the public early in 2022 with new, more flexible furniture, fresh finishes, and updated technology. This is an exciting project, with additional renovation projects likely to follow throughout the system as we begin to build a county-wide facilities master plan. The role the Friends played in this specific circumstance was one of both advocacy (it was their voices that first raised the need for the renovation) and financial support. The project, when complete, will have been funded by Friends, Jackson County Library Foundation, Jackson County Library District, and other funds restricted to the Ashland Library.
I’ve had the opportunity to attend meetings of four separate Friends groups in the last month, and one of the things I take away from them every time is the level of engagement these library users have with their libraries. The relationship between the library itself and Friends is particularly complex in a community that recognizes the need for a Friends group at each branch. It is more common for a system of the size of JCLS to have a single unified Friends organization. We value each of these Friends groups and appreciate their ongoing support of JCLS’s mission, vision, and values.
If you want to get involved in your local Friends group, they are always eager for new members: both people who are interested in being members and, often, in people who are interested in volunteering to serve on their board. You can find more information about many of the individual Friends groups here: https://jcls.org/about/get-involved/friends-of-the-library/. If the branch you are interested in doesn’t have a link, reach out to the branch and they will be happy to connect you.
If you are doing year-end tax planning and are interested in the Cultural Trust Tax Credit, many of our Friends groups, as well as Jackson County Library Foundation, are eligible nonprofits. You can find more information at this link: https://culturaltrust.org/get-involved/donate/
It is time for the library district’s second Rogue Reads,
which encourages everyone in the valley to read and think about the same books.
Learn more here:
Jackson County Library Services is embarking on a broad-based strategic planning process. These efforts will help guide the Library’s priorities over the coming years. As a partner in this project, the Library is working with Library Strategies Consulting Group (LSCG).
In collaboration with a steering committee composed of Jackson County community members, consultants are pursuing community engagement strategies to gauge unmet, under-met and emerging needs in the county as they relate to library service. A cornerstone of this is an online community survey, which anyone in Jackson County is encouraged to take, even if you do not use the Library!
On average, this survey takes only 10-15 minutes to complete. Your input is extraordinarily helpful as the Library considers future priorities and investments to serve YOU effectively and fully. Please complete it by end of day Friday, December 31.
The survey is available here: