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2023-2024 Annual Report 

The Friends of the East Longmeadow Public Library continued its mission to support and cooperate with the Library to develop top-notch library services for the community in 2023-2024.

The Friends started the year by conducting the Vinick Memorial Scholarship Awards ceremony on May 8th.  The recipients were Eliza Iacobucci and Julia Boucher.  One of our scholarship committee members, Betty MacLeod, described each student's accomplishments and merits prior to presenting their certificates representing $1,500.  Eliza informed us that she would be attending Endicott College in Beverly, MA and would be working towards an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science.  Julia shared that she would be attending Trinity College in Hartford, CT and would be double-majoring in English and History.

The annual meeting took place at the May meeting, too.  No notification of interest was received for a seat on the board from the general membership and no intentions of resignation were delivered.  Therefore, the board remained unchanged.

It was the first time that the Friends participated at the Summer Reading Program kick-off, National Night Out and Celebrate East Longmeadow Events.  It was our intention to be more visible in the community during the year and the 3 events provided us with the opportunities.  People who were unfamiliar with our organization were enlightened when they learned of our role within the the library system.

The Friends made another "wish" become a reality this past year.  Adult Services Librarian, Maura Mara, did research regarding Teen furniture due to the fact that the 20-year old upholstered furnishings were dull, tattered, and beyond cleaning.  She went to nearby libraries, took photos of their Teen areas and prepared a presentation to justify the need to replace the old furniture.  In addition to aesthetic justifications, consideration was given to the ability to clean all-Poly student chairs and maintain 4 lounge chairs.  It was a valid and responsible request.  The cost was steep but after reviewing our investment funds and taking into consideration the anticipated life span, the Friends approved funding the appeal.  The furniture is colorful, sets a positive tone and has livened up the entire Teen section.

Since 2020 the Friends have approved disbursing funds for huge ticket items which would not have been feasible if not for the funds received from the Bernard J. Vinick Trust.  In the 29 years of existence, the Friends have helped finance items that do not come under the Town's library appropriation such as museum passes which are another means to help broaden patrons' knowledge, equipment for library staff so that they can serve the public efficiently, and quality programs that the community has come to appreciate, enjoy and expect from the library.  According to statistics received from the staff, the Friends funded 400 extraordinary programs during this year which had a total number of 12,000 attendees!  The numbers speak volumes about the staff and their dedication to find interesting programs for all age groups..

A minor change took place last fall.  The location of the "Friends Corner" was repositioned.  It remains in the lobby on the first floor, but is next to the double entry doors to the Children's Department.  According to our library director, Kate McGonigle, making that modification promoted a better flow for foot traffic and was ADA compliant.

Our library has become quite a busy place for everyone.  From programs, to movies, to lectures and more, the library's calendar fills up quickly.  To avoid conflicts and reduce some of the extra hustle-bustle around the Circulation Desk, the duration of each gift-basket fundraiser has been shortened.

Another alteration was based on the staff's awareness and suggestion:  Buy-One, Get-One (BOGO) sales.  Due to the fact that the Friends never know when there is an accumulation of donated books overflowing in the storage room, the Board authorized them to conduct the BOGO used book sales events at their discretion.

The Friends organization now has a Quick Response (QR) Code.  The Friends' website is updated regularly and so it is my hope that members and library patrons will find the code a useful tool compared to entering our long online address, or going through the Library's website, or using a search engine to find it.  The code will be on future flyers, letters, envelopes, newsletter, etc.

To ensure our membership dues were similar to other Friends of Libraries in the Pioneer Valley, a comparison report was created and distributed to the board.  Although some categories had different titles, their fees were comparable.  Therfore, no increase of membership dues was considered.  However, to attract new members, or at least let other individuals know that we exist, departments heads in the Collector's Office, Recreation Department and the Council on Aging were asked whether or not they would allow membership brochures in their reception areas.  They all granted permission.

I want to express my appreciation to the members who have supported the Friends organization by renewing their memberships year after year.  Your support is the foundation that ensures that our library continues to thrive and provide essential parograms and services to our community.  Also, I want to welcome and acknowledge those of you who have joined for the firtst time.  You will find that the Friends may be a small town organization but it is a major contributor to ensure literacy and knowledge for all.  And to those who may have given a donation, please know that all proceeds go directly to benefit the Library and the Friends appreciates your financial support.

Next, a message to the library staff:  your perseverance, meticulousness and accommodations to serve everyone who walks through the doors are astonishing.  Your knowledge as to the needs of the library has guided the Friends to provide the tools you require to make the library operate like a well-oiled machine.

Finally, I wish to convey to the board my gratitude for being kind and supportive to me.  As a team, we have continued to answer the call for new furnishings and addressed the financial requests that help the staff due their job.  By doing so, our library is one of the best in this area.  Great job, everyone!

Respectfully submitted,

Diane A. TiagoPresident

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