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Have you ever walked out of one of the Harris County Public Library branches and thought, "Wow, that was awesome! I wonder how they can provide such great programs and services for free??" Well, I'm here to tell you that we owe so much to the Harris County Friends of the Library, a group of generous volunteers and donors who are dedicated to supporting our libraries.

This week, October 16th - 22nd, 2022, marks National Friends of the Library week. We really wanted to personally tell all of our Friends that the work they do is meaningful and makes a huge impact on the services that we provide to the community. We collected stories and words of gratitude about Friends groups from library branches around the county to say our thanks and spread the word.

If the stories shared below inspire you, please consider becoming a Friend and supporting a library in your community!

Crystal Mosley, Clear Lake Freeman Library   

Friends of Freeman Library have provided so much of our branch, appreciation parties, extending our innovation lab, getting us extra supplies, and all around helping our staff at Freeman take care of our patrons. They host many great porch book sales that give us the means to continue providing our community with great services. Personally, the friends always tell us that we do such a great job in circulation to keep things running so we will often exchange “Thank you” parties with them and sit together. I quite enjoy those times we get to spend with them and tell them how much we appreciate them!

Jennifer Nandlal, High Meadows LibraryPull quote graphic:"Without the HCFOL,  we wouldn’t be able  to go above and beyond  for our community."

I am currently at a branch looking to build a friends group. While we don’t have our own Friends, we’ve been recipients of grants from the Harris County Friends of the Library. One grant we received allowed us to supply our customers with USB drives for a career focused program. HCFOL also provided refreshments when we hosted a USCIS Citizenship Swearing in ceremony for International Youth Day. Without the HCFOL, we wouldn’t be able to go above and beyond for our community. We thank them!  

Sarah Gardner, Aldine Branch Library

The Friends of the Aldine Branch Library, better known as F.A.B.L.E. (Friends of the Aldine Branch Library Extraordinaire!) are dedicated to improving the library for our patrons. Recently they’ve made a lot of improvements to our outdoor space, installing benches and tables for our patrons to enjoy, as well as improving our bike rack. This has created a more welcoming environment in and around the library. Thank you so much Ms. Nikki and Ms. Polly! 

LeeAnn Jennings, Aldine Branch LibraryPull quote graphic "The constant little things!  – snacks here, crafts there.  They always throw us  an amazing Staff  Appreciation Day  and make us feel valued!  "

The constant little things! The support for programming – snacks here, crafts there. They always throw us an amazing Staff Appreciation Day and make us feel valued!  

Anjela Martinez, Administration, Programs, Partnerships, & Outreach  

Thank you Harris County Friends of the Library for supporting Growing Readers, Book Buddies, Tournament of Books, and Summer Reading! HCFOL’s contributions to these literacy programs benefits all 26 HCPL branches and their communities. With their continued support, HCPL is able to engage readers of all ages, spread the importance of literacy, and create lifelong readers and library users. We cannot thank them enough for their generosity!   

Atascocita Branch Library Staff 

Friends of Atascocita Library (FOAL) are an integral part of the staff’s ability to serve the community.  From the initial fundraising efforts that proved to the county of a need for a branch in this area back in 1994 to ongoing sales, grants, and fundraising that purchased an LED sign allowing us to inform the community of events, library hours, and more.  FOAL’s ongoing support of our programs and staff is part of what makes Atascocita Branch what it is.  FOAL volunteers showing up every weekday to manage book donations, taking part in programs like Trunk or Treat, and being advocates of all the library has to offer when they are out in the community benefits the library and the people it serves. 

Spring Branch Memorial Library Staff Pull quote graphic: "The funds...go directly to  paying for our Summer  Reading Program  performers and other  programs throughout  the year. "

We can’t applaud The Friends of the Spring Branch-Memorial Library enough for working tirelessly all year long to benefit our library.  Each week we receive bags and bags of donated books which the Friend’s price and display in our lobby for sale. The funds gained from the sale of these books go directly to paying for our Summer Reading Program performers and other programs throughout the year.  In addition, the funds we receive from the Friends make it possible for our staff to attend conferences.  I know that I am very grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to attend TLA this year in Ft. Worth. We are so grateful for the dedicated volunteers that belong to the Friends of the Spring Branch-Memorial Library for their many years of service to our library. Thank you all for doing an outstanding job!!!!! 

LSC-Tomball Community Library Staff 

The Friends of the Tomball Library changed hands completely – all new board with brand new members – this past spring and we are so appreciative of all the work they have done in that time. In roughly eight months, they have corrected a backlog of paperwork issues with the state, sorted a mountain of donated books, revamped the entire Friends of the Library Bookstore, checked over all the finances, and held successful membership and donor drives. They also, as a brand-new Board, provided all the funds for our first full SRP since 2019 and established a workable budget that meets all the library’s needs for the rest of the year. More than once, they reminded us that the Friends are there to support the library in whatever way the community needs, and then backed that sentiment up with action. These amazing volunteers have truly made themselves indispensable and we are incredibly lucky to have them. Thank you for all that you do, Friends of the Tomball Library! 

Kingwood Branch Library StaffPull quote graphic: "In the year when only  curbside service was  available, our Friends  helped us to update our  video equipment to offer  better online programming."

Kingwood’s makerspace has been greatly enhanced by donations from our Friends, including Cricuts and our newest 3D printer.  In addition to being available for our patrons to reserve, the Cricuts have been incredibly useful in making materials for both adult and children’s crafting programs.    

In the year when only curbside service was available, our Friends helped us to update our video equipment to offer better online programing.  The maker equipment and craft supplies from folk enabled us to make take home crafts and activities for our patrons.     

Many of our summer reading program events, like our visit from Texas Snakes, are sponsored by the Friends of the Library Kingwood.   

This fall, Kingwood’s Friends of the Library has graciously provided notebooks for our November writing programs, which will be going out to patrons across the system who sign up for the HCPL Writes NaNoWriMo programs.     

Did you know HCPL has a podcast? Listen to the HCPL Using our Library Voices podcast about the Friends.

Learn more about Harris County Friends of the Library and HCPL branch friends groups at www.hcfol.org and stay up-to-date on the Friends by following on Facebook: @hcfol.org

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