The Library’s BFFs

April 4, 2023

Our library has three boards that support the library in very different ways.

The library board is appointed by the mayor, and each member can serve two three-year terms. They provide oversight of the library and the director, while providing guidance in the library’s management. Some of their activities include reviewing the administrative functions of the library. This includes the monthly bills and library policies, among other things. They also support and promote the library and its services.  

Friends of the Gering Library are enthusiastic supporters, whose mission is to help provide library services of the highest quality to our community. The Friends are volunteers. They raise money and then donate it back to the library where it is used for programming and other items like our popular storytime backpacks. Last year they purchased a hot air balloon ride for the adult summer reading program. Their biggest fundraiser is the annual book sale, scheduled for April 19-29 this year. The book sale will be open during library hours. Friends do not expect more than you can give, but they might ask you to help at the book sale or at the annual holiday Mingle & Jingle. With a $5.00 annual Friends membership you receive a quarterly newsletter and an opportunity to support something you believe in.

The Gering Public Library Foundation, Inc. is organized as a not for profit organization to develop enduring sources of capital for strategic projects and support through conceptual ideas and partnerships that enhance and advance literacy, lifelong learning and community activity. Their vision is “Building a Destination for Generations.” The library foundation is also run by volunteers. Foundations handle big money for big projects. The Scottsbluff Public Library Foundation was instrumental in raising money to fund the library expansion and renovation in the early 2010s.

The Foundation, like the Friends, is completely separate from the city and both are 501c3 entities. The boards are filled with volunteers who feel passionately about the success of our library. Neither is connected with the city, whereas the Library Board is appointed by the mayor.

I did some research, and there are 173 public libraries in our state, all of which have a board. Of the 173 libraries, 118 have Friends groups, and 126 have foundations. All have at least one of the two groups. Even Gering’s City Parks Department has a board and a foundation that function much like the library board and foundation. They promote our city parks and provide for improvements when they are needed.

The library has regular openings on the library board, since members are term-limited. If you are interested in being part of our board, please contact Library Director Christie Clarke. She can pass your name along to the mayor when there is an opening. The library board doesn’t involve a large commitment of time, only two hours a month (at the most). 

Public involvement is one of the most important components for a democracy to function. None of these boards require a large time commitment, just the desire to be part of what makes our library function well.

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