Friends of Libraries Section of the New York Library Association issue “Beyond Younger Volunteers: White Paper on What Rural Friends Groups Need to Thrive”

A white paper from the Friends of Libraries Section of the New York Library Association explores the needs of Friends organizations that assist small and rural libraries and provides recommendations to sustain these volunteer groups.

The report, "Beyond Younger Volunteers: White Paper on What Rural Friends Groups Need to Thrive," is the result of a 2021 survey of libraries in New York and outlines the services offered by NYLA’s Friends of Libraries Section (FLS) in response to the challenges identified in the study.  The project was undertaken to learn more about volunteers who support under-resourced libraries and how a division of a state library association could better meet the needs of their constituents.  The white paper can be accessed for free, along with the original 40-question survey and a summary of the data. FLS has also developed a related resource page for Friends groups supporting small and rural libraries.

Over the past year, FLS has developed a variety of support materials to assist Friends by highlighting a set of best practices to not just survive but thrive in the areas of diversity and attracting younger members, leadership and succession planning, membership growth and involvement, fundraising, raising public awareness of the Friends mission and purpose, and encouraging current members to actively participate in a variety of roles.

Authors Lisa C. Wemett and Erica Freudenberger first shared the survey results at a virtual session presented at the 2021 conference of the Association for Rural & Small Libraries in October.  “We hope this white paper encourages discussion among staff and library civic leaders and advances their important work to support the needs of their local communities,” said Kerstin Cruger, FLS President.  Learn more about the Friends of Libraries Section at www.nyla.org/friends.

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