National Friends of Libraries Week Award winners announced

Friends of the Bernardsville Public Library (N.J.) and Friends of the Sea Cliff Library (N.Y.) will be honored with $250 each

The 18th annual National Friends of Libraries Week took place Oct. 15-21, 2023. Friends groups across the country held celebrations in order to promote, spread awareness, and recruit new members. Two Friends groups were chosen as winners of United for Libraries’ 2023 National Friends of Libraries Week Awards.

Applications were judged based on creativity and innovation, engagement of Friends, library staff, and Trustees, and recognition/promotion of each Friends group.


Friends of the Bernardsville Public Library (N.J.)

During National Friends of Libraries Week, the Friends of the Bernardsville Public Library actively engaged Friends, library staff, Trustees, and the community. The Friends played a central role in executing events such as the farmers market participation, Shop Sip collaboration with businesses, and hands-on workshops, instilling a sense of ownership in their community contributions. The library staff’s pivotal role in coordinating and holding events demonstrated their commitment to providing diverse and engaging experiences for the community. The Trustees provided strategic guidance and support, ensuring the project aligned with broader library goals and reinforcing the community’s trust in the library’s commitment. Overall, the collaborative involvement of Friends, library staff, Trustees, and local businesses ensured a comprehensive and successful NFOLW celebration.

Highlights of the week’s celebrations include:

  • Local Farmers Market Presence: Actively participated in the local farmers market to promote upcoming events and disseminate information about the Friends.
  • Shop Sip Support: Collaborated with five local businesses to extend special shopping hours, featuring refreshments and Friends representatives on-site. Each participating business committed a percentage of their profits to the Friends. Preliminary estimates suggest a fundraising success exceeding $500.
  • Spelling Bee Initiative: In collaboration with a local tutoring business as both sponsor and partner, and local middle schools, the Friends hosted our inaugural spelling bee for grades 6, 7, and 8. This event garnered significant engagement, with contestants accompanied by multiple family members.
  • Diverse Library Events: Sponsored a variety of events, including the Monster Mash, tailored for different age groups, all under the auspices of the Friends.
  • Friendship Bracelet Workshops: Led workshops to create friendship bracelets, attracting over 40 young participants.
  • Resume and Interview Workshops: In collaboration with a local business, organized a comprehensive resume preparation workshop for all residents, featuring 30-minute one-on-one sessions. Additionally, college interview preparation and practice was extended to high school students.
  • Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Event: For adult patrons, a wine tasting and food pairing event in collaboration with two business sponsors and two local partnerships. This event, offered free of charge to patrons, generated minimal costs, with donations exceeding $500.

In total, the Friends successfully engaged with three business sponsors, established eight business partnerships, collaborated with library staff, and involved local schools in celebratory endeavors.


Friends of the Sea Cliff Library (N.Y.)

The Friends of the Sea Cliff Library designed this year’s NFOLW activities around a theme – Books are Magical. The Friends hired a magician in a successful attempt to attract a new audience to the library. Omitting an admission fee allowed everyone, regardless of economic status, to attend. The “I love my library”-branded card decks and magic wands were treats for children to enjoy, but they also served as physical reminders for their guardians to become members of the Friends of the Sea Cliff Library.

The Friends collaborated with the branch librarians to secure the event date, ensuring it did not conflict with other library events, and opened the library on a day it is not usually open to the public. Librarians also helped decorate and hang signage. Members of the library’s Board of Trustees attended and were impressed with event turnout.

At the event, Friends handed out fliers about how to become members, with some patrons signing up to join on the spot. Others took fliers home and mailed them in with donations.


National Friends of Libraries Week is an annual honorary week coordinated by United for Libraries. Friends groups use this time to creatively promote themselves in their communities, raise awareness, and promote membership. Each year, Awards are given to two Friends groups for creative celebration ideas.
Learn more about National Friends of Libraries Week


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