Thanks a million

Friends of the Library hit $1 million mark, membership drive under way

By: Erin McClary | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 8, 2011

 Friends of the Bloomfield Township Public Library member Virginia Smith, 93, has volunteered for the group since 1965. She runs the Friends’ Super Second Saturday book sales each month at the library.

Friends of the Bloomfield Township Public Library member Virginia Smith, 93, has volunteered for the group since 1965. She runs the Friends’ Super Second Saturday book sales each month at the library.

Photo by Deb Jacques


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — This month the Friends of the Bloomfield Township Public Library will celebrate their $1 million milestone of giving.

For the entire month of March, the Friends are also holding a membership drive in hopes of growing their support base.

“Our Friends are worth a million bucks,” said Library Director Karen Kotulis-Carter. She said that in the 23 years she’s worked for the library, she’s noticed that each new “Friend” has given his or her weight in gold toward enhancing the library’s services.

Kotulis-Carter said the library is always looking to add more Friends.

The group is a nonprofit organization that raises money for materials and programs that aren’t laid out in the library’s annual budget, said Virginia Smith, a Friend of the Library member and Second Saturday book sale organizer.

“The director has what she calls a wish list. … These are things that do not fit into the library budget; things they would like to have that are beneficial to the staff and the public or just the public,” said Smith. “We get the wish list and decide what we want to spend the money on.”

She said the $1 million the Friends have raised and given to the library wasn’t a set goal, but rather a shock. It was recently discovered during routine bookkeeping.

“We actually did not have a goal of $1 million,” said Smith. “In fact, we were a little bit surprised.”

She noted that the $1 million milestone was not something that spanned from the time the Friends started in back in the ’60s. The $1 million was raised over the course of 15 years.

The Friends of the Library fund everything from art pieces and the library’s gardens to circulation desk embellishments and the special needs program.

For the membership drive, the Friends have put up little cards around the library identifying the things they’ve donated toward throughout the years.

“The Friends of the Library have always supported Bloomfield Township Public Library with enthusiastic volunteers, lots of hard work and fundraising to provide for special library items and services,” said Carol Mueller, assistant library director. “Reaching this milestone of $1 million in giving to the library shows just how wonderful and extremely generous our Friends are.”

Smith, 93, has been around since day one — she played a role in getting the library on the ballot in 1964 and stumped for the last millage that’s made the current building at Lone Pine and Telegraph what it is today.

She said she hopes people view the Friends as an important resource, and that the membership drive and contribution credentials will show library cardholders how they can help make a difference.

In the past several years, the Friends’ membership hasn’t really budged up or down. That concerns Smith, she said.

“That’s why I’m anxious to get this membership drive going. I realize that many people don’t even know that there is something like the Friends. We’re trying to make it more apparent to people that there is another way they can help.”

Right now there are roughly 400 Friends.

“The Friends of the Bloomfield Township Public Library is a group of people who believe that any community is a better place to live if it has a first-rate library,” Mueller said. “This March, they are hoping to add new members … to grow their membership in this avid and enthusiastic group of volunteers.”

Annual memberships start at $15 for an individual membership, $20 for a family membership, $30 for a supporting membership, $50 for a benefactor membership, $100 for a patron membership and $500 for a life membership.

Smith’s “baby,” the Friends’ monthly Second Saturday used book sale, is the group’s biggest moneymaker. The first one was held in December 2002. It’s raised $128,104 since then. The six-hour sale varies from month to month with its proceeds, the lowest amount being $744 and the highest being a little more than $3,000. Last month’s brought in more than $2,800, Smith said.

The next Second Saturday Sale is March 12.

“People are very generous in their donations of books,” she said. Because of that, the Second Saturday sales have become well established and well attended. “That’s where we make the bulk of our money.”

Smith also credited a good portion of the Friends’ donation funding to its Big Book Sale, held in the spring and fall, and Friends of the Library membership sales.

Asked which is her favorite item, program or project the Friends have funded over the years, of course, she said, it’s the Second Saturday Sale.

“The Second Saturday Sale is my baby and the thing I’m most enthused about. I think that’s probably because I like people so much,” Smith said. “And I enjoy the fact that I’m rewarded when I see these people find something that they really have been looking for. … That type of thing is what makes the Saturday Sale so rewarding to me.”

But assistance-type programs like the library’s special needs program, she said, come second to none.

“If that was the only thing that we’d done, it would be worthwhile,” she said. “There are just so many things at the library that would not be possible if it wasn’t for the Friends.”

The Friends of the Library membership drive is going on now. The library is located at 1099 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Township. For more information, call (248) 642-5800.