Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Friends of the Kinnelon Library

Friends of the Kinnelon LibraryIn my last conversation with Ron Leavesley, we discussed Kinnelon's Center For Lifelong Learning.  In this post, we focus on the Friends of the Kinnelon Library of which Ron is the president.

CB: Ron, what are the Friends of the Kinnelon Library?

RL:  The Friends of the Kinnelon Library is an independent, non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to focusing public attention on the library to promote the use of its resources and services. Its sole purpose is fundraising for the Kinnelon Public Library.

We state our primary mission as being to develop the library as the educational, informational, and cultural center of the Kinnelon community and to raise funds for the exclusive benefit of the library.

CB: How did the Friends of the Kinnelon Library get started?

RL: It was 1979 when the charter for the Friends was approved by the IRS and the State. All of this came about thanks to the efforts of many dedicated library supporters. The result: 31 years of Friends activity and funding support.

However, even before the Friends were formally created the Arts & Crafts Festival (34 years) and the Book Sale (33 years) were well under way as fundraisers. Even the Kinnelon Service Directory has been provided annually, free of charge to all Kinnelon households since 1980.

[Book Sale and Festival Posters volunteers.]
Friends of the Kinnelon Library Book Sale and Festival Poster volunteers
CB: How are the Friends organized?

RL: The Friends are a totally independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is governed by a Board of Governors. The Friends file annual Federal and State reporting requirements and all assets are in Friends bank accounts.

To facilitate communications and cooperation we have supported and encouraged the Library Director and representative Trustees to be a party to the Board meetings even though they have no vote. In any case, we all have a real interest in fundraising, fulfilling our mission and doing the best for the library. We do quite well and have a common interest….our Library!

CB: What are some of the programs that the Friends sponsor?

RL: As I mentioned previously, the Book Sale, Arts & Crafts Festival and the Kinnelon Service Directory have a been our longest running fundraisers along with our membership mailings sent out twice a year to every Kinnelon household.

Other fundraisers, which by the way can change every year, are targeted to raising funds for the Library. For example, the Paver program initiated in 2001 has raised over $33,000 as well as covering the cost of the initial construction of the walkway. It is a matter of getting fundraisers that have a good return on investment. Other examples are the Barn Theater program, special trips, etc. In 2009 all these efforts generated over $57,000 and a contribution of 80%.

[Book Sale volunteers.]
Friends of the Kinnelon Library Book Sale volunteers
CB: What about volunteers?

RL: They are so important and we have over 200 of them who make significant contributions in so many different ways. To recognize their efforts each year we have a Volunteer Recognition Event for those who have served the Friends, CLL and the Library so well during the year. Recognition awards are also given out… some serious and many humorous. We all have fun plus great food. I have said…volunteers are our most important asset.

CB: What is the connection with the CLL?

RL: As mentioned before the Friends and CLL are completely separate organizations and with different mission statements… The Friends are fundraisers and CLL are the educators. However, the two organizations do a great job of working together. As President of both organizations my job is to see that we are all working together to avoid duplication of effort, support each other and provide the best return on our commitments of time and money. It is interesting that some individuals serve on both Boards and that is great. To top it off the Library Director and Trustees are all part of the process.

Friends of the Kinnelon Library Pavers Program
[Putting in the pavers.]

CB:  Carol Sventy mentioned that both the CLL and the Friends hold yearly brainstorming sessions? What's the purpose?

RL: We find that it's incredible valuable for each organizations to get together once a year to review what they have accomplished, key issues facing each orgainzations, ideas for the next year and plan for the future. We brainstorm and exchange ideas to keep our programs fresh and relevant both to the community and the Library. For example, in 2000 when the Kinnelon Library decided to expand, we came up with the Paver program to raise funds for the computers and other equipment needed in the start up of the expanded library. In 2001 the Friends contributed over $94,000 to the cause.

CB: How else do the Friends help the Kinnelon Library?

RL: We invest in the Library. Very simply we are fundraisers providing funding that enables the library to provide services and programs that could not be accomplished without the Friends as well as CLL. Since 2001 the Friends have contributed funding of over $450,000 thanks mainly to public support. CLL has added another $40,000.

All of this fundraising takes on added importance as Libraries in general could see reduced financial support by the state and local governments in a variety of ways in 2010 and beyond. [Note: see Ted's post New Jersey & Kinnelon Library Armageddon?]

CB: Ron, Kinnelon is truly lucky to have both the Friends of the Kinnelon Library and the CLL.  Everyone in the community benefits.

Thank you.

Would you like to become a Friend of the Kinnelon Library? Click on this link. You won't regret it!

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