by Crystal Phillips, Cook Public Library

First let me say what a great experience it was attending my
first Minnesota Library Association conference in Mankato.  I came back with a wealth of resources and
ideas that I cannot wait to share with my library.
One session that I was particularly excited about was called
Everyone Needs More FRIENDS! put on by Dianne Pinney from the Le Sueur Public
Library and Heidi Schutt from the Muir Library in Winnebago.  Dianne gave a brief history of the Friends of
the Library group in Le Sueur who recently succeeded in raising $500,000 in
order to help pay for a library expansion project.  After this enormous feat, the Friends started
looking for new ways to fund-raise, attract new members and bring people into
the library.  They decided to create a
Junior Friends of the Library. 
The Junior Friends is not about fundraising, but about creating
a service group and identity for kids within the library.  What is great about this group is that the
kids decide what they want to do.  For
instance, they wanted to create an alphabet book based on their city, so a
local photographer (and Friend of the Library) took pictures of landmarks,
people and places which were then used to create the book with Shutterfly.  The Junior Friends are also in charge of
decorating the library three times a year. 
Fifty kids showed up to decorate the library last Christmas, Pinney said
the children’s area was a blizzard of handmade snowflakes.
Other ideas the Junior Friends have for the future include, 
  • Making
    more books, including one based on the story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie but changed to If You Give a Kid a Library Card 
  • Voting
    on which new children’s book gets added to the collection
  • Making
    library themed crafts like magnets with the library hours
  • Creating
    their own membership cards
  • Writing
    a welcome letter to be given to every person who signs up for a new library
    card
  • Writing
    shelf talkers

In regards to the summer reading program, the Junior Friends
get a sneak peak at the library decorations and theme and also get to sign up a
few days early.  Pinney said this is a
perfect way for the kids to be ambassadors at school and get more kids
interested in the summer reading program.
If you are thinking about starting a Junior Friends of the
Library, Pinney offered the following tips based on her experience.
            Don’t
charge to be a member
            Limit the
ages, her suggestion was 3rd – 6th grades
            Don’t plan
events during the summer (schedules are already too busy)

            Remember to
include projects/events for the boys or they will lose interest