With the sale of one used book at a time, the Friends of Saratoga Springs Public Library Inc. have been helping the library for more than 30 years.
The contributions from the 421-member, not-for-profit organization have been particularly helpful the past three years when the library has kept its spending and the tax levy unchanged in recognition of the difficult economic times, library officials said.
The Friends raise money in a variety of ways, but their principal financial engine is the Book Bag shop located on the first floor of the library at 49 Henry St. in downtown Saratoga Springs.
The Friends rent space for the used book shop and pay two part-time employees, Marilyn Lane, manager, and Jan Lillibridge, assistant manager, to coordinate the sale of used books donated to the library. The shop also sells popular canvas book bags.
A total of 35 Friends volunteers staff the Book Bag shop, donating more than 3,500 hours of their time each year to the operation.
“They love the library,” said Maria Bucciferro, president of the Friends, about her fellow members. “They love books.”
Bucciferro, in her first year as president, is the managing editor of “Saratoga Living” magazine in Saratoga Springs. The Friends membership includes educators, writers, business people, retired professionals, stay-at-home moms, and at least two teenage members, Bucciferro said.
The Friends are being particularly generous to the library in the upcoming 2010-11 budget year. The private organization has agreed to donate $45,000 for automated, self-checkout devices the library plans to install next spring.
The group is also planning to donate another $45,000 to a variety of library programs it supports on an annual basis.
These programs include:
u Donations from the Ex Libris Society members of the Friends who donate at least $100 each year to the organization. This money is used to support the library’s non-fiction book collection.
u Four 10-cent paperback book sales each year (the next one from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 20).
u A summer reading program for more than 1,500 children.
u Special project donations, including $10,000 last year for the library’s new Teen Room.
u Special community programs and presentations to promote literacy and reading, including Saratoga Reads programs.
“They are really a great organization,” said library director Isaac Pulver.
“For example, with support from the Friends we have been able to buy equipment to help people with low vision, build and outfit a computer training center, and open our Teen Room,” Pulver said.
“For next year the Friends have pledged $45,000 to help the library buy self-checkout equipment,” he said.
Bucciferro said the Friends average more than $50,000 in contributions to the library each year with the 2010-11 year being the exception, with contributions exceeding $80,000.
The Friends also contribute money for library staff development days and sponsor the Kay Lillibridge Memorial Scholarship, which helps library employees who are enrolled in a graduate library science program.
Friends memberships start at $10 per year and increase to the Ex Libris Society Friend that starts at $100 per year. The Friends have 140 Ex Libris members. For more information see the Friends Web site at: www.friends.sspl.org.
The Book Bag shop is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday (except during the summer months when the shop is closed on Sunday).
Residents of the Saratoga Springs Enlarged City School District, which has the same taxation district as the library, will vote on the $5.1 million 2010-11 library budget, which is the same as this year’s budget with no tax increase, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday in the library’s community room.