Friday, November 28, 2014

What is a friend?

If your child asked you that question, what would your answer be? Maybe something like...
A friend is someone who likes you and wants to spend time with you, and you feel the same way about him or her. A friend is someone who has your back and looks out for you, and is there for you when you need help.
In addition to this personal definition, there is also a larger meaning: A friend is...
" who looks propitiously on a cause, an institution, a project and the like; a favorer; a promoter; as, a friend to commerce, to poetry, to an institution."
Although we at Burbank Public Library like to think of all of you, our patrons, as our friends, there is also a special group of friends called The Friends of the Burbank Public Library, and these friends fulfill both of the above definitions.

Now, most libraries have a Friends group of some sort, and for the most part, people don't really know what that means. They have a vague idea that the Friends are those people who run the book sales or work in the bookstore, and maybe they think, "Someday, when I retire and have more time, I might do that..."

The Friends have a page on our website, where you can read all about their philosophy and goals, and see a list of the activities they fund. But candidly, it's factual, which is to say that it doesn't paint a vibrant picture, so I'm going to try to do that here:

Are you a parent? Do you count on the Burbank Public Library to provide you with free activities for your children? Activities like Toddler Time, Family Night performers and movies, Lego Club, the Fairy Tea and the Pirate Book Party? Do you sign up every year in May to bring your children to Summer Reading Club for six weeks of summer fun, including performers and prizes?

Yes, those activities are free to you...but someone has to pay for them. The library can't do it--our budget doesn't even include programming! So...where does the money come from to pay the magician, the puppet troupe, the dancers, to buy the refreshments and the prizes, to pay for the movie license so we have the proper permissions to show Maleficent to your kids? Who buys the books every month for your teenagers who belong to our three Teen Book Clubs? Who pays for the materials for the Valentine's Day craft, or the Gingerbread House kits? Who pays for the apple cider and cookies we serve you at intermission at the annual Readers' Theater program?
The Friends.

And now ask the obvious question: What would happen to all those activities if there were no Friends of the Burbank Public Library? Answer: They would go away.

All this is to say, if you are a parent who wishes these activities to continue to be available to your children, then it is time to stop assuming that they will continue without your help. It is time to say, "I want to be a friend to the library too!" It is time to say, "I can volunteer," and if you can't do that just yet, then it is definitely time to say "I want to join!"

You can go here to see the types of membership and decide which one is for you. Your children can be Junior Friends, or you can buy a Family membership. The amount is a pittance per year--far less than it would cost to take your family to the movies--but think about all the benefits you enjoy from Burbank Public Library, and please consider giving back in this small way.

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