As published in the Intercounty Leader on May 17, 2023
The Friends of the Larsen Family Library was founded in 1989 specifically to address the need for a local community library in Webster. In the past 30 years the library moved three times, locating to its current home on Main Street in September of 2011. In 2022 the library offered over 20,000 items for circulation and served over 2,000 card holders. Since the Friends were formed, they have followed their mission “to promote literacy for all ages, provide support for the library and to encourage the entire community to know and use its valuable resources” by raising funds to purchase books, operating equipment, computers, and AV equipment. The Friends have also given support for programming including summer reading and Grow a Reader.
Each year the Friends, working together with the library director, identify priorities and designate targeted efforts for programming or operating needs. Recent examples of Friends’ activities include working to bring a children’s puppet theater, supporting an environmental theme, to the annual summer reading program; purchasing a variety of books for all ages specifically focused on the topic of resilience and how we continue to thrive (bounce back) despite setbacks; and in 2023, helping the library create a resource area allowing patrons to explore health and wellbeing topics.
The Friends rely on all volunteers to help with fundraising efforts including managing book sales, hosting author/community resource presentations, and supporting grants activities. This year the Friends will staff six book sales, beginning in April. The Friends will also host the free book giveaway at the Children’s Book Fair held during Gandy Dancer Days in August. Several Friends members also volunteer at the library, assisting with patron service and operational support.
In addition to library-focused efforts, the Friends created an Early Childhood Literacy subcommittee in 2014. The subcommittee purchases and then donates books to children together with early reader and literacy tips for parents. Books are given out multiple times throughout the year to six area day care centers in central and eastern Burnett County and to the kids’ library at Kid Central in Siren. To date 5,800 books have been given to help create excitement for reading and to help kids begin to see reading as both enjoyable and important in their lives.
The Friends of the Library are driven by their passion for literacy. A core belief is that encouraging literacy among our youngest results in their ability to achieve life goals at all ages. The Friends believe literacy is fundamental to educational achievement, business acumen, responsible citizenship, and the wellness supported by recreational enjoyment. This passion is coupled with the commitment to help retain readily available library resources which are fundamental to our community’s ability to thrive.
The Friends welcome anyone interested in working with us to support these beliefs. Reach the Friends by email at email@example.com or stop into the library.
The Northwest Alliance Community Foundation is an affiliate of the St. Croix Valley Foundation. We support our area nonprofits with educational opportunities and grants. Please consider joining us by making a donation. See our website nacommunityfoundation.org for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.