Category Archives: Friends of the Library

Friends of the Library

The Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc. is a membership-based organization that performs the following duties on a statewide level:

  • Advocates for library issues on the local, state, and national levels;
  • Encourages local chapters to work with their regional library system director and branch librarians to promote local library services;
  • Works to expand visibility of libraries in communities throughout Mississippi;
  • Meets with local groups interested in establishing or enhancing Friends chapters in their communities;
  • Promotes reading and the enjoyment of books by all Mississippians;
  • Shares its Internal Revenue Service 501(c) (3) nonprofit designation with chapters throughout the state;
  • Serves as a liaison with the national organization, United for Libraries;
  • Sponsors a Friends of Mississippi Libraries annual program in October as part of the Mississippi Library Association Conference.


Local Level, Friends of the Library Chapters

On a local level, Friends of the Library chapters are found in many Mississippi communities.  Friends groups are citizens who join together to support, improve, and promote the local library.  Friends groups raise funds for special library programs or services, advocate for library services, volunteer with children’s summer reading programs, sponsor National Library Week events, and other activities.

While the library system’s administrative board of trustees and a Friends chapter share a common vision of the library in the local community, they are separate, autonomous organizations, each with distinct roles.  Listed below are suggestions that can assist in maintaining effective working relationships:

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  • Friends should recognize that they do not perform a decision-making role for either the library system or the local library.
  • The board recognizes the value of and encourages input/opinion from a local Friends chapter.
  • The board often appoints a liaison (can be the director or other staff member) to work with the library system’s various Friends chapters.
  • The board and the director submit a list of needed items not included in the budget as suggestions for the Friends to purchase.  After discussions with the board and/or the director regarding the library’s needs, the governing board of the Friends chapter makes decisions on the expenditures.
  • Friends not only support the library system’s long range plans/policies, but also serve as advocates for the library system’s programs and services.


Establishing a Friends Chapter

Form a group of concerned citizens interested in the local public library.

  • Contact the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc., who will send materials on how to establish a Friends group.
  • Review the materials, all required forms are included in the packet available from the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc.
  • Elect officers and develop chapter bylaws.  This process establishes a Friends of the Library Chapter.
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  • Work with and maintain communication with the public library system director and local branch librarian.
  • Have access to an attorney for legal questions.
  • Join the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc. to share the Internal Revenue Service 501(c) (3) non-profit designation with other chapters throughout the state.
  • File an Application for Employer Identification Number with the Internal Revenue Service:
  • Register as a tax-exempt Charitable Organization with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office on the official website:
  • Establish a local bank account.
  • Define dues structure and membership categories.
  • Develop a membership brochure and begin soliciting memberships.
  • Begin a publicity campaign to inform the community about the newly formed Friends of the Library chapter.


Establish partnerships with other community organizations (Chamber of Commerce).  Join in community activities, such as Homecoming, local festivals, etc.

  •  Start local long range planning for the Friends—establish a mission, set goals and objectives, and accountability.
  • If fundraising is important, develop a campaign with set goals in order for potential donors to know the intended purpose.
  • After consulting with library administration, consider sponsoring programming activities such as a book club, authors with book signings, and lunchtime events with speakers, humanities and arts programs, and supporting children’s events.
  • Evaluate the Friends’ activities each year.  Report on accomplishments and issues.  Adjust the long-range plan each year.

Libraries Need Friends: Starting a Friends Group or Revitalizing the One You Have (PDF, 100 kb) by Sally Gardner Reed, Executive Director, United for Libraries: This free toolkit is geared mostly toward public library Friends groups but includes good tips on membership and outreach for Friends groups of any type.

Publications Available through United for Libraries: Resources from United for Libraries Executive Director Sally Gardner Reed and previous publications used by the organization when it was FOLUSA (Friends of Libraries U.S.A.).