Happy National Friends of Libraries Week! It’s the annual celebration of library Friends groups and everything they do for their neighborhood libraries.
In honor of Friends of Libraries Week, we asked the staff at our branches to talk about the special relationship they have with their Friends groups, and how their Friends have supported them and their communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visit our blog all week to read their stories!
Hear from our elected officials about the importance of our Friends groups!
Thank you again to all the Friends of Queens Public Library!
The Friends of Ridgewood Library (FORL) is an amazing and inspiring group. Being proud Queensters, they don’t let anything stand in their way, including COVID-19. When it hit, they found several clever and powerful ways to continue their mission serving the community.
First, staying true to their mission of connecting the library with the community, they quickly moved their meetings online. But they also knew they weren’t reaching everyone; some don’t have computers, some don’t have Internet access, so how do you reach everyone?
Even while working remotely, they created one of the most professional, interesting, and informative newsletters I have come across in my many years of professional life. It has an interesting mix of photos and stories and news, and it has been a lifeline to get information out to everyone. However, they knew they were still not reaching everyone. What about those without computers? The FORL has been working on distributing the newsletter in print version and they have been looking into creating a phone tree to make sure all their members are aware of programming and FORL business as well as what is going on at the branch.
They didn’t stop with the newsletter; they have also been a key communication channel to reach our community members with their presence on social media. When COVID-19 hit, Ridgewood rapidly transitioned to virtual programming, running storytimes, trivia, open mics, Spanish classes, ESOL conversation groups, and computer programming. The FORL helped promote these programs through social media, letting our community know what we were making available for them.
Their work didn’t stop with expanding communication—the FORL understands that without a thorough Census count, we can’t provide adequate services to our community. Current FORL president Michaeline Von Drathen stepped up to be a Census Navigator to bridge the gap and make sure community members were aware of the importance of being counted. Also, the FORL members promoted the Census in their newsletters and through social media. Nothing can replace person-to-person contact, which prompted FORL members to volunteer at our Census sidewalk outreach events.
Even while the Ridgewood branch was closed to the public, the FORL kept an eye on the building and property. We maintained our weekly meetings, but they also let me know immediately if there were items left outside the library or if they noticed the return machine was down.
The FORL are the epitome of an engaged community group; they are dedicated, connected, passionate, and motivated to make our community the best it can be. They push us to do our best, they care intensely about what is happening in the neighborhood, and they are willing to adapt and change as situations change.
I hope I have explained a little about how lucky Ridgewood is to have our Friends group, and how lucky the community has been to have them on their side during the COVID-19 pandemic. To the FORL: thank you for being such an amazing group to work with. We’re so lucky to have you on our team!
Thomas Maxheimer, Manager, Ridgewood Library
Since the inauguration of our Friends group a few years ago, they have helped to bring our community to the library through various programs that they have offered thanks to the funds provided them by NYC Council Member Donovan Richards.
Before the pandemic, they had so many programs scheduled but alas!—these could not be put in place. However, Friends President David Pecoraro and his executive members have been helping to promote the Library’s programs through their email blasts.
Also, our Friends regularly provide information from community leaders/organizations and local and national politicians to both our library staff and the rest of the Rosedale community. They have been promoting the importance of the 2020 Census and the coming elections (including the website where you can obtain absentee ballot forms), as well as vital information pertaining to the pandemic and how to take care of oneself, through their community emails.
E. Patricia Eshun, Manager, Rosedale Library
St. Albans Friends
Reminiscing, remembering old times, times of joy and times of challenges. It takes me back to my childhood village, when, in normal times of harvest or in times of disaster, neighbors came together and gave a lending hand. The village carried on, planting collective seeds of wisdom and reaping hope that carried us through the hard times.
During the pandemic, I periodically telephoned members of the St. Albans Friends. In this time of gloom and devastation, a routine phone call took an added dimension, neighbor reaching out to neighbor. I got to know some members of the Friends on a deeper level, beyond the normal routine of a general membership or Executive Board meeting.
One member reminisced about the old neighborhood and places she had lived. She offered wisdom and comforts from the days of yesteryear when times were simpler. The death rate from March has significantly decreased and now an ordinary phone call may seem to be just ordinary. However, during the months of the raging pandemic, the words of wisdom and comfort from Friends who have given decades of service to the Saint Albans Library gave this manager an invaluable perspective of glimpses of hope.
Michael Brice, Manager, St. Albans Library