by Wayne Onkst
Almost all the friends groups have book sales, but maybe you have a unique twist or do something a little different that might interest other friends groups?
Every Friends group that reported has book sales. The number and timing depend on the library, the community, and the capacity of the Friends. Ideas included:
● Staffed stores open all the time
● Continual sales without staff
● Regularly scheduled – annual, semi-annual, quarterly, monthly (ie 9-noon on 4th
● Around special events
● Holidays (Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas)
● Seasonal – spring, fall
● Topical – paperback sales (whatever your excess in gifts provide)
Book sales during local events:
● Summer reading kick-off
● 127 yard sale
● Local festival – (Burgoo festival, Black Patch, Apple Festival, etc)
● Quilt show
Other ideas for book sales:
Anderson Co. Friends : the Library’s Summer Reading kick-off event involved emergency and other work trucks and was called “Touch a Truck”, so our sale on the same date was “Touch a Book” and featured a free book to each child. We also have
sales on the same days as 127 Yard Sale, Lawrenceburg Burgoo Festival, and my personal favorite Halloween. If there is a way to work in a free book, we will find that way. We decorate any time we can. Halloween will find our volunteers dressed in
costumes and a free book to each patron who is also dressed in a costume.
Mary Wood Weldon Friends (Barren Co.): we do have this “twist” to a book sale that we do every February in conjunction with Valentine’s Day. (See news release below) It’s not a huge fundraiser, but it’s very popular. We have members bring baked goods to sell, sell mostly romance books, and for the past two years invited local authors to attend and sell their books. We buy chocolate bars made in six different countries, chop
them up, and let attendees take a taste of each and vote for their favorite. I always enjoy families and friends coming in and getting in deep discussions about which is their favorite and why. People always have stories about chocolate they have tried and countries they have visited, so it’s a fun community event.
At our mini holiday sale in December, we sell not only Christmas themed books, but books that are like-new and “giftable”. We sell donated Christmas cards and Knick
knacks that could be used as gifts or decorations. We offer free gift wrap, but accept donations.
Bell Co. Friends combines book sale with quilt show in the fall.
Caldwell Co. Friends : our book sale is held during the community celebration, the Black Patch Festival, which offers us more exposure as the organizers include our sale in their events. We do advertise in our local paper, do radio interviews, and use social media to get the word out. Our opening day is always the Saturday before Labor Day. It is like going to a black Friday sale, we have people lined up into the street waiting for
the doors to be opened. We have found organization to be one of our keys to selling more books. We alphabetize fiction, paperbacks, and Christian fiction as they are the top sellers. The others are in categories. The Friends are encouraged to talk to those shopping and be familiar with what we are selling. We sell more books when we find out their interest and can point them in the right direction. It can be overwhelming to
customers seeing so many books they just walk out when nothing jumps out at them. We don’t want to see anyone leave empty handed. We also try to keep our customers looking by taking their books and placing them in a box or whatever with their name on it near checkout so they are not loaded down and can shop. Customer service!! Our sale continues the Tuesday after Labor Day for the reminder of the week as the festival
climax on Saturday. There are evening hours for two nights until 7. We do have ½ price day on Wednesday, bag day on Thursday and Friday.
Bourbon Co. Friends hold regular book sales and also keep shelves of books for sale in the library between sales.
Calloway Co. Friends are trying a sale in November that will include nice ‘coffee table’ books and signed books.
Campbell Co. Friends sorted and prepared books for sale on the fourth Thursday of the month, so they decided to have a sale each month during that time since they were at the library anyway. They sometimes have a “bag day” with $6 for a bag of books. They have a Christmas book sale in November.
Lexington Friends operate the “Book Cellar” in the main library which is open every day. For their semi-annual sale, they invite an author and hold an author event.
Friends of the Paul Sawyier Library (Frankfort) also operate a book store every day, but they have special sales regularly.
Graves Co. Friends hold semi-annual book sales.
Hardin Co. Friends hold a spring and fall sale that runs for 3 days with books half price on day 2 and a bag sale on day 3. They raffle off baskets at each sale. The baskets are displayed several weeks prior to the booksale so people can buy tickets. They also offer door prizes.
Kenton Co. Friends hold 6 sales each year in addition to a few special sales. They also have online sales which have been very successful.
Laurel Co. Friends hold two sales each year.
McCracken Co. Friends hold 2 large sales plus a Christmas sale with books suitable for Christmas gifts and a mini sale during the quilt show in the spring. They include many community partners:
● A church offers the use of their gym for a week for each of the large sale. The women of the church have a bake sale to help with their mission work during our large book sales.
● A storage company gives us a very reduced rate on the rental of 2 box trucks to transport the boxes of books.
● Local groceries supply some of the plastic bags and all of the paper bags (for bag day).
● One local grocery gives us their tomato boxes to store sorted books.
● A local printing company makes our bookmarks for a reduced rate.
● A payment company provides credit card training and offers us the use of a credit card reader (to be used with one of the library’s iPads)
● Our bank provides courier service during the busy sale days.
● We have free media coverage from our TV station, newspaper, and an online newspaper
● We have used the same security service for many years. They always park one of their van in a very visible location on the parking lot.
Pulaski Co. Friends have a Book Store in the basement open to the public everyday between 9-5. The store runs on the old fashioned honor system and customers pay at the main circulation desk on the way out.
Rowan Co. Friends have a bookstore in the library that is open year round every time the library is open. They also have an annual book sale each April. Each month, on the first Monday, they have a BOGO (Buy One Get One) sale. Also, once a year, we have a week long BOGO sale, usually around the time of National Friends of the Library Week.
Scott Co. Friends operate a bookstore in the library. In addition, the friends organize big bargain book sales quarterly to reduce inventory.
Spencer Co. Friends hold a book sale twice each year.
Warren Co. Friends have sealed paper shopping bags they call ‘sack of suspense’ with 20 paperback suspense books in and sell for $5. Individually sold at .50 each that would be $10. Bags are kept sealed, buyers can’t peek. It has been very successful
and helps get rid of paperbacks as well! (The first year they did this a gentleman bought one, went to his car to see what he got, he was so pleased he came back and bought 3 more!) Last year they had full boxes of books still in the storage area that they
never got out onto the floor. On bag day they brought them out into the lobby by checkout and sold them for either $5 or $10 depending on the size of the box. The fiction went like crazy, non-fiction were not as popular.
Corbin Friends during their book sales have “fill a bag for a dollar” at the end of their sales.
Do you do fundraisers other than book sales? If so, what do you do and have you been successful?
Bell Friends and Laurel Friends sell jewelry, purses, scarves; Laurel Friends note it brings a lot of folks to library for first time
Bourbon Friends put together a cookbook called A Literary Feast in Paris . Sponsors paid the cost for the initial printing and the books cost $20. They continue to sell at the library and local gift shops, and they are on a second printing.
Luncheons and dinners
Caldwell Friends have a spring Tasters’ Luncheon where Friends bring salads, casseroles, desserts to sell. Also, an Election Day soup and sandwich luncheon. Calloway Friends held fundraising dinner with author Rick Bragg. Corbin Friends have had impersonators of Mark Twain, Elvis, Lincoln. They are doing Downton Abbey night.
Scholastic book fair
Caldwell Friends sponsor fair at the library during Summer Reading.
Grocery, Amazon rewards program
Hardin and Caldwell Friends sign up for rewards program from their local grocery story and from Amazon and name Friends as the beneficiary.
In conjunction with their book sale, Bell Co. Friends hang quilts around the library with notes on the pattern, quilter and date. Madison Friends hold a Little Quilts Auction. Quilters make and donate small quilts based on the book of their choosing. They hold a silent auction to sell the quilts.
Tiles for the Library
Madison Friends allow participants to make a donation of at least $25 to create a tile that is hung in the library.
Zumba in the Library
Calloway Co. Friends had several Zumba instructors who volunteered to conduct a Zumbathon on a Sunday afternoon. FOL members and the public were invited and we raised about over $500.
Friends of the Library shirts and polos
Calloway Co. Friends purchased FOL t-shirts and polos and have been selling them for a slight profit. Spencer Co. Friends also have sold t-shirts, but not with great success.
Rowan Co. Friends provide canvas bags that are sold at the library’s circulation desk. Spencer Co. Friends also have sold reusable bags, but with limited success. Warren
Co. Friends also sell bags but probably won’t buy more when all are sold.
Trivia night/silent auction
Daviess Co. Friends planned their first ever trivia night and silent auction in October
Fundraising campaign for special need
Paul Sawyier Friends solicited for funds for stained glass window for the library; Kentucky non-profit network (Kentucky gives Day) Hardin Co. Friends joined the Kentucky Non-profit Network so they can participate in kygivesday on the second Tuesday of each May. They didn’t get a lot of donations, but think we’ll be able to raise quite a bit of money with a relatively small amount of manpower, if they get started earlier next year.
Fashion show/Derby Fever
One of the Friends groups of the Louisville Free Public Library holds a fashion show that has been quite successful. Another Friends group in Louisville holds an event before the Derby called Derby Fever that is quite successful.
Vintage and Collectible Sale
Laurel Friends do a short four hour sale of vintage and collectible items that have been donated such as signed and first edition books, pop-up books, and last year they had a vintage Star Wars Lego set.
Laurel Co. Friends charter a bus for one day excursions that take place in the spring or fall. The length of travel is up to 3 hours one way. Some of the bus trip destinations have been: Lynch, KY – a tour of portal 31, the coal mining museum, and lunch at the Schoolhouse Inn; Louisville, KY area – tour of the American Printing House for the blind and a lunch and a show (Mama Mia the musical) at Derby Dinner Playhouse; Bardstown, KY area – tour My Old Kentucky Home and the Bardstown area; and many more.
Spencer Co. Friends have bake sales in conjunction with book sales.
Spencer Co. Friends have a Friend who donates a pre-decorated Christmas tree each year for a silent auction.
Spencer Co. Friends have held an Author Faire three times. In conjunction they’ve held a silent auction of quilts and other hand-made items.
Corbin Friends held the “Reindeer Run” and participants ran in Christmas attire.
Annual drive and membership fees
Corbin Friends do a yearly membership drive which includes a mailing to local residents and businesses. Graves Co. Friends collect membership fees.
How do you help your library? Are there particular projects that you undertake or fund each year, or do you do different things each year depending on the needs of the library?
Our funds are for our Anderson County public school children. We have grant program (up to $500) for teachers to use for various literacy events. Teachers simply apply for the funds using an application that must have a description of the project, the costs involved and how the project will benefit the students. We require follow-up to ensure the project is as presented. We donate funds to the Library’s summer reading program. We have an annual scholarship in memory of one of our driving forces during our rebuilding process. We try to meet the Library’s special needs for items that are not included in their budgets for whatever reason. In the past we have purchased laptop computers, popcorn machines for kid’s hours, carts for mothers with young children, items for employee break room such as a microwave. We also always give Christmas
gifts to the Library staff. We decorate any time we can. Halloween will find our volunteers dressed in costumes
and a free book to each patron who is also dressed in a costume.
Mary Wood Weldon (Barren):
We also help at the summer reading kickoff event every year and host a reception for school librarians, principals, preschool teachers and family resource coordinators each September. We invite library staff to share resources that the library offers that would be of interest to school staff, students and parents. We give them “goodie bags” with treats and school supplies donated by our Friends.
Our money supports the Summer reading programs and adult book clubs. Also whatever the library needs. We also get $50 grocery cards for each library staff member at Christmas time and a small gift on their birthdays. We help with library programming.
The children’s and teens’ summer reading project is our #1 priority, and we help to fund it every year. Other expenses are voted on as they come up.
We do go with the flow as to what the library needs from us during the year. We volunteer at library events including the SRP open to all ages; sponsor a Chautauqua speaker annually; sponsor for Imagination Library; big event for children in December is the Polar Express done one evening where Friends not only help with decorations beforehand but you will find them serving as Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves, conductor,
ticket agent, overseeing activities, and serving hot chocolate and cookies ( Friends baked). We are very comfortable suggesting activities to the library director. Last year
at the Polar Express there was a young man who was special needs attending with his family. It was noticed that this man was simply overwhelmed with all the activity. We talked to the director and then planned an afternoon for residents of Bright Life Farms, a residential community for special needs individuals. They came to the library and we provided a modified Polar Express, activities, refreshments, etc. It was a great afternoon for them and us. Very easy to do as we had the library decorated and still had plenty of leftover supplies to use so the cost was really in our time and we met a need to for a special group of people.
Our group tends to help the library with any requests they have; thus, we spend funds on a variety of programs or activities. Here are a few examples:
- funding for a stage for the annual summer reading carnival (attended by about 500
- food and drink for various events (author visits, legislative meet and greet, etc.)
- picture books for children
- library staff appreciation dinner
We have regular programs we fund each year, as well as special projects the library requests from time to time. We give $ 18,000 every year for the summer reading program. Two scholarships are given every year to employees who are working toward degrees. Money for appreciation parties for the workers. Assist in funding of programs. These are things we do every year. Also, we help with special projects of the library as needed and requested.
We have some annual things we always support such as Summer and winter reading programs, the music license, a library team in the community spelling bee, free books at
the Imagination Library Pancake breakfast, christmas decorations, etc. The library always presents us with their funding requests. Sometimes the requests vary each year, such as snacks for staff when they were remodeling, snacks for the
Library’s open house, etc.
In the past year, we gave the library $75,000. We partnered with the library’s Tiny Libraries Project and gave books for the Tiny Libraries. Each year we fund the library’s Summer Reading program and offer a voucher for a free book to anyone who finishes the summer reading club. We sponsored Camp Digital, a collection of classes and workshops for aspiring techies ages 12-17. We have purchased a new vehicle for the library’s outreach services to assist in getting programs to day cares and other childcare facilities. We have been active in advocacy and used social media to spread the word about important library issues. We recently provided an awning to cover outdoor programming area for one of our branches.
Sponsor summer reading programs, outreach programs, author gatherings, equipment for the library, stained glass windows, landscaping – whatever might be needed to promote reading in the community. We offer two scholarships each year. We host a
monthly half hour program on cable tv spotlighting library events and programs. We hosted an annual tea for our Youth library staff and school librarians to build strong relationships with the school librarians.
Our main help to our library is financial, as we do not have a tax base. (hopefully, that will change soon). Our director will request funds for various things the library needs for which they don’t have an adequate budget. It’s been a variety of stuff over the years, from furniture/equipment to programming needs. We also give the library a $150.00 monthly donation which is earmarked for books.
Each branch needs quite different things in Louisville, as neighborhoods are quite different. Our more prosperous branches contribute to a fund to help the less prosperous branches pay for the summer reading programming.
Our branches have tables at street fairs, give out candy at Halloween fairs, do end of Summer Reading Book Walks (like cake walks), and many other activites.
Because of the budget crisis in Louisville, much of our activities have been of an Advocacy nature. Friends attended numerous public hearings and met with each of their metro council members.
The library presents a wish list each year. This year we gave the library $35,000 for the “haunted library” at Halloween, summer reading club, senior thanksgiving, staff day t-shirts, summer reading prizes, 2 wagons for moving books, flatbed scanner for history and genealogy, maker space items and furniture. We are always ready to fund special needs that come up during the year
Our Friends group supports the library based on the library’s needs. We participate in our hospital’s maternity fair. The Friends group sets up a table and hands out baby board books (with a sticker on it that reads “To encourage a lifelong love of reading this book has been donated by: Friends of the Laurel County Public Library), and a bib that says Read to Me. The new mothers are also invited to sign up for our library newsletter and are welcomed by smiling faces who are happy to tell them
all the library has to offer. I feel the continued partnership with the hospital, and the involvement of our Friends group in the public has been very beneficial.
Last fiscal year we were able to donate $30,500 to our library. We have no stipulations on how they spend the money. They know their needs better than we do. We do ask they inform us of how the money is spent. We also sponsor 2-3 evening library
programs per year. This includes speaker fees, overnight lodging, and door prizes. Sometimes the library will ask us to host an event for an author who is there to speak
and sign books.
The friends money is used for special items such as Staff Christmas Party, they sponsor particular events such as our 1,000 books before kindergarten yard signs.
Support the library through monetary donations for First Book purchases which allow the library to purchase books in bulk to give away at back to school events, holiday events, and other times.
Monetary donations are given to help support programming for Summer Reading, Build A Bear workshop, and Lego robotics. (Astronaut for this SRP was $2000) We host and financially fund the Holiday Open House every year. We have purchased equipment and furniture for the library (memorial benches and
Focused on advocacy. Went to Frankfort on Legislative Day and attended community events such as the International Kite Festival and The Scott County/Georgetown Airfest to promote the library. Celebrate with Books project offers books to children who may never have owned a book. They provided books to three summer reading camps, students in special
reading clubs in Scott Co. schools, to students participating in Battle of the Books competition, to Family Resource Centers, and for hospital and health department waiting rooms.
They offer a scholarship each year to someone pursuing a career in the library or a related field.
They purchased a picnic table for the staff, a literacy bell for the children’s patio, funded performers for summer outreach programs, makerspace materials, an adult writing program. Every December they assist with Polar Express, a series of library programs held inside a train car in Sadieville.
Friends volunteer when the youth services staff need extra help.
The Friends sponsored an annual staff recognition event by purchasing gift certificates for the staff and also provide snacks and goodies for the staff during National Library Week.
We help the library by decorating (and un-decorating) it each year in December. The first time we decorated, the library was a stop on the Christmas Holiday Home tour.
We have 3 projects we budget and donate to each year. We donate $12,000 for the summer reading program, $2,000 for the winter reading and $1,000 for the SOKY book fest children’s day. We also budget every year and give library employees service awards. The Human Resource Manager will let us know who has an employment anniversary and how many years as we prepare our budget. We give $100 for 5 years service, $200 for 10 years, $350 for 15 years, $500 for 20 years, $750 for 25 years and $1,000 for 30 years. Also, each year we meet with the Library Director to see what needs they may have. Either a one-time special project or a general need at all branches. This year, I am proud to say, we donated $6,000 for the purchase of VOX childrens books.
We are in the process of installing a couple of the “Little Free Libraries” boxes around town. We approached the local newspapers and they both donated a couple of the metal newspaper dispensers which we are going to use for this project. We hope to get the local high school art program to paint them for us and then we will place them around town and keep them filled with free books. I know this doesn’t make any money but will maybe be good PR for the library and our friends group. We use all of these funds to support the library in some way. We purchase the Ancestry.com program each year. We buy supplies for art classes and quilting classes which are hosted at the library several times each month. We have purchased furniture, patio tables, chairs, and umbrellas for the courtyard. We sponsor art and story contests each year for the local high school and give prizes and gift cards to the winners. We
just recently spent approximately $8,500 to purchase 16 long banquet tables and 8 round banquet tables along with 164 chairs for the new community room and meeting
room in the new addition along with the art display units mentioned above.
Every Friends group helps their library in different special ways, usually with financial resources but also by volunteering their time and energy. Many of the Friends groups provide regular annual support for particular projects. Usually the library director will present a list of projects for the Friends to consider and choose for support. It is not unusual for a surprise need to arise during the year that the library had not budgeted for that the Friends agree to take on. In addition, most of the
Friends groups provide volunteers for library events all during the year. Often the Friends will pay for items that might bring criticism if the funding came directly from public funds. Almost every Friends group reported that they go “with the flow” for what the library needs.
- Summer Reading Club – both financially and with volunteers when needed, funds for children’s books. Most of the Friends groups support the Summer Reading Club in some fashion. Some examples include:
● Direct monetary donations
● Volunteer at kickoff
● Volunteer during programming
● Pay for books for participants
● Fund performers
- Staff appreciation
Many Friends groups pay for expenses to support the staff. Some examples include:
● Equipment for break room and staff areas
● Gifts for staff birthdays and Christmas
● fund staff appreciation dinner
● Pay for staff t-shirts
● Fund staff Christmas party
● snacks for the staff during National Library Week.
Many Friends groups reported purchasing equipment for the library. Examples include:
● laptop computers
● a popcorn machine
● Carts and wagons for moving books
● a flatbed scanner for history and genealogy
● maker space items and furniture
● a literacy bell
Many Friends groups purchased books for the library’s collection or to be distributed as part of library programming. Examples include:
● picture books for the children’s collection
● monthly support for book purchases
● books to give away at back to school events, holiday events, and other times
- Online services
Some Friends group pay for online services used in the library. Examples include:
● the library’s music license
- Sponsor library programs
Friends groups regularly provide financial support for programming in the library. Some pay for programming, others provide supplies and fund other areas. Examples include:
● adult book clubs
● Chatauqua programs
● Imagination Library
● Holiday programming
● winter reading
● Camp Digital, a collection of classes and workshops for aspiring techies ages
● outreach and author programs
● Laurel Co. Friends participated in the hospital’s maternity fair. The Friends group set up a table and handed out baby board books (with a sticker on it that reads “To encourage a lifelong love of reading this book has been donated by: Friends of the Laurel County Public Library), and a bib that says Read to Me. The new
mothers were invited to sign up for the library newsletter and were welcomed by smiling faces who are happy to tell them all the library has to offer.
● McCracken Co. Friends sponsor 2-3 evening library programs per year. This includes speaker fees, overnight lodging, and door prizes. Sometimes the library
will ask them to host an event for an author who is there to speak and sign books.
● Pulaski Co. Friends bought yard signs for the 1000 books before kindergarten program
● Scott Co. Friends paid for performers for summer outreach programs, and the adult writing program. Every December they assist with Polar Express, a series
of library programs held inside a train car in Sadieville.
● Corbin Friends paid for supplies for art classes and quilting classes which are hosted at the library several times each month, and sponsored art and story
contests each year for the local high school and give prizes and gift cards to the winners.
- Scholarships for local students and for library science students
At least four Friends groups provide scholarships to local students or those studying library science – often staff members.
- Food and drink for library events
Several Friends groups reported paying for food and drink for library events.
- Support for local schools
Many Friends groups reported supporting local schools and particularly cooperation between the public library and schools. Examples include:
● grants to teachers for literacy events.
● a reception for educators and provide school supplies.
● an annual tea for Youth library staff and school librarians to build strong
relationships with the school librarians.
- Library improvements
Most Friends groups assist libraries with capital expenses. Examples include:
● canopy for outdoor programming area
● vehicle for outreach
● stained glass window
● memorial benches
● sound system
● furniture, patio tables, chairs, and umbrellas for the courtyard
● tables and chairs for the community room
● art display units
● a stage for the annual summer reading carnival
- Holiday extras
Friends groups are great for funding holiday needs for the library. Examples include:
● decorating the library
● Dressing in costume for Halloween and giving a free book to each patron who is
also dressed in a costume.
● funding the haunted library at Halloween
● Funding senior thanksgiving luncheon
● supporting the library’s holiday open house
Many Friends groups reported work in promoting the library and advocating for the
library. Examples of this work included:
● Staff tables at street fair
● Walk in parades
● Fund spelling bee team in community events
● Sponsor Little Free Libraries
● Sponsor cable tv program
● Design of library logo/marketing materials
● Hold Legislative Meet and Greet
● Attend Legislative Day in Frankfort
Recruiting new members is an issue for all Friends groups.
Here are some ideas we received for how to recruit new members:
We are working on ideas to brand ourselves and make us attractive to younger folks.
Our members receive a discount in our book sales
Our director challenged us and we found ourselves moving forward. She expected us to take ownership and be accountable. We have a wonderful working relationship
Our group had a successful membership drive in May. People who joined could get a free t-shirt and a free book from our ongoing book sale. About 40 people joined.
We keep our members informed by email of special events going on in the library.
During our semi annual booksale, we set up a table that is staffed during the entire sale with brochures. We engage everyone coming in and we always ask them to join. We sponsor a number of programs during the year and we always have a board member at the opening of the event who gives an elevator speech and asks for people to join and hands out brochures. At our bookstore, we invite anyone who comes in to become a member.
The Friends group also does a yearly membership drive which includes a mailing to local residents and businesses. Membership levels start at $15 for an individual level and go to $100 or more for business, corporate, and sponsor levels. We usually make $3,000 or more on this yearly drive which is our main source of income.
Other ideas :
Post signage at library and during Friends sponsored events
Offer early access to members for book sales.
Get publicity in local newspapers about Friends and encouraging membership