The mission of the Friends of the Livermore Public Library (FOLL) is to support the library, its services, and programs by advocating for public support and use of the library. The nonprofit meets its mission by generating current and long-term funding and by developing volunteer involvement. Since its founding in 1978, the nonprofit has provided more than $1 million in funding to the Livermore Public Library.
“I think the Rincon Library Homework Center is the most important program we do with the Library,” says Dave Runyon, President. “Pre-Covid, we had volunteers helping kids in a lower income neighborhood almost every school day. Many of the volunteers are retired Livermore Lab people. This is a great example of how the library partners with other organizations to really help the community.”
Over the years, FOLL has funded Livermore Reads Together, Summer Reading Programs, Authors & Arts programs, Jazz in July, programs for children and teens, and the Lucky Day book collection. The collection provides copies of popular books that cannot be reserved in advance, unlike books in the regular collection. That allows library patrons to find some of the latest books for checkout during a visit.
“We have a very close partnership with Livermore Library both at the Board level and with Staff members,” notes Runyon. “For a very long time, we have had Friends Board members who are also Library Board members, which keeps our goals and processes in synch. Our Board members are used to working collaboratively with Library and City management.”
Several years ago FOLL transitioned to a 100% volunteer organization, which allowed the nonprofit to double its funding of library programs. The group reorganized responsibilities and tasks to ensure volunteers were not overloaded, and continues to review volunteer duties to make sure that remains true. The pandemic also inspired several shifts.
“With Covid shutdowns, a number of programs we funded needed to change,” says Runyon. “We quickly gave library staff flexibility to spend already allocated funds as needed and funded the Kanopy video streaming service to give our community a free option for seeing movies and programs. We remain sharply focused on serving the Livermore community by funding programs for the library. We also give volunteers wide latitude in accomplishing our goals. Our newest Board Member, Chris Buck, joined to take over our Footnotes Newsletter and has done a fabulous job re-imagining the newsletter.”
Early grants to the Livermore Library included an Apple II Plus computer and Epson printer, microfilm equipment, and $400 to enhance the record collection. More recently, a boost in digital content, the software adopted to offer curbside service, and funding for online events at the library was made possible through FOLL support. Funds for library grants are raised through FOLL membership dues, donations, and sales of used books in the Friends Bookstore at the Civic Center library. The Friends Bookstore is expected to reopen this summer; donations of good quality used books, CDs, and DVDs will be accepted again at that time.