Volunteer groups vital to library

Monday, May 6, 2013 - 11:18

At least once a year, I like to pay homage to the organizations whose volunteer boards play enormous roles in the vitality of our neighborhood libraries. Friends of the Library, the Anchorage Library Foundation and the Library Advisory Board each provide their own brand of community support to Anchorage Public Library.

The Library Advisory Board, created in the Municipal Code, is a planning body that oversees library activities. At monthly meetings, the nine-member board gets a report on what is going on at the library. They approve new or re-written policies and procedures. They annually review the library’s budget and operations, making recommendations to the mayor and assembly as needed.

The Anchorage Library Foundation works to promote, fund, and support the long-term vitality of APL. The vision of longtime library advocate Wilda Marston, the foundation was incorporated as a non-profit in 1982. She realized that public funding would ebb and flow, but figured a foundation would help ensure the Library system would always have adequate funding to thrive. Eric Wohlforth, Wilda Hudson, Arne Espy and Arliss Sturgulewski were also founding board members.

It was ALF that led the creation of the APL community plan. As part of that plan, neighborhood libraries all over the city were rebuilt and re-vitalized: Muldoon in 2007, Girdwood in 2008, Chugiak-Eagle River in 2009 and Mountain View in 2011. Teen Underground at Loussac opened in 2012 and teen programs increased 850%. Now, the foundation is leading the most challenging project yet: the redesign and renovation of Z.J. Loussac Public Library.

A major focus of the 12-member board of trustees is raising money – and they have been incredibly successful at it as evidenced by all the marvelous new libraries in the community. This board pursues grants, foundation donations, bonds and government support, as well as individual contributions. Think of them as the group that works to grow the library’s future. Your donations make you a part of that legacy. Visit www.anchoragelibraryfoundation.org for more.

Friends of the Library is the organization that focuses on the “here and now” library needs. While the foundation collected the funds necessary to build or remodel the libraries, Friends donated tens of thousands of dollars to enhance each building with more items to check out – books, DVDs, CDs and downloadable books.

Friends is the major underwriter of library programs throughout the system. Reading Rendezvous, the Summer Reading Celebration (which includes two months of weekly children’s programs at every APL library), the Live at the Library summer outdoor concert series – all made available thanks to the Friends. The organization also supports the library’s volunteer program with organizational tools and recognition.

Join this member organization for $20 for individuals and $40 for families. The non-profit’s volunteer board organizes three major fundraisers which raise between $80,000 and $90,000 annually. And serendipitously, two of those fundraisers are happening in the next month.

The 10th annual Beyond the Stacks, a dinner/auction event, is scheduled from 6-9 pm, Friday, April 19, at the Anchorage Hilton on 5th Avenue. This event features celebrity waiters, several dozen silent auction items and some very exciting live auction packages such as:

• A flight in a T-6 Tiger World War 11 airplane

• A day with a friend touring the site of the proposed Pebble Mine

• A multi-drawer, old-fashioned, library card catalog (a favorite last year)


Tickets for Beyond the Stacks are $60 each or $100 for two. For more information or to buy tickets, go to www.FriendsAPL.org or call 338-1956.

The Friends Spring Book Sale is Saturday, May 4, 10 am-4 pm and Sunday, May 5, 12-4 pm. The sale, on the first level of Loussac Library, features around 10,000 items: nearly new non-fiction and fiction books, cookbooks, craft books, a wide selection of children’s books for $1 and under, and media items such as DVDs, CD, audio books and some record albums. For the first and maybe only time ever, several hundred Chilton auto and truck repair books will be on sale for far less than you can get them online. Ask for the dungeon entrance.

Friends members get in at 8 am Saturday and can munch their way through a expansive continental breakfast while getting first pick at the sale items. Everything is half off on Sunday. Volunteers are always welcome. Sign up for a shift by clicking the volunteer button at www.anchoragelibrary.org.

Help strengthen our library. By joining Friends and donating to the Foundation, you help APL financially. Even more important, you are making a statement of support and showing that you feel the library provides a vital service to our community.


Toni Massari McPherson is the community relations coordinator for Anchorage Public Library. For the latest APL news and programs, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/anchoragelibrary.

Facebook comments