“A faithful friend is a strong defense;
And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.” – Louisa May Alcott
Behind the scenes at the library are volunteers of a non-profit, charitable organization who devote countless hours “to inspire lifelong learning and to actively promote personal enrichment by connecting community members to information, ideas, culture, unique historical resources and each other…” They complement the Library Committee of the Town of Concord, the Library Corporation and the librarians by dedicating themselves to provide, enhance and add to a broad selection of programs and resources.
The Friends formed over 50 years ago when the sorters at the time decided to make an official group of people who help the library. “The sorters are the heart and soul of the Friends,” said Aiyana Currie, the present president. “There are thousands of books that are donated, and it would not be possible to do the work without this very dedicated and motivated group. Working multiple days a week and all year round, they categorize, sort and box the books. They also filter out the books that are not able to be sold and which are further donated to charities such as Open Table and the Concord Prison Outreach.”
The Friends form and organize many programs throughout the year.
“The idea of the Film Series is that one can watch an assigned movie on one’s own time using the video streaming service Kanopy that is available with one’s library card. Afterwards, a film aficionado from New York conducts enriching and lively discussions about the film and accompanying reading materials, and presently they take place over Zoom. These films have historically been a selection of thought-provoking independent and foreign films.”
Six to seven times a year, one can spend a pleasurable Sunday afternoon listening to two poets read their works with a discussion on the background and inspirations for the poems.
Musical programs, puppet shows, museum passes and professional development opportunities for the librarians are all possible due to the Friends. The Author Series and Concord Festival of Authors bring to Concord interesting and notable authors of different genres and backgrounds.
Throughout the pandemic, great efforts were made to keep the connection of the library’s many enriching resources to the community, with them even reaching beyond the borders of Concord with people tuning in from multiple countries and as far away as Australia.
Stephan Bader, who is one of the treasurers of the Friends, explained that book sales and memberships are the major source of financing, with the June book sale seeing sales up to $30,000 in just one day. If one cannot make it to one of the book sales, the Main and Fowler branches have little bookstores set up in the library where one can buy and self check-out a “choice of both children’s and adult assortments of gently used books” every day of the year.
More details about the Friends of the Concord Free Public Library can be found on their website.
The Concord Bridge is running a series about the many Friends groups that support the nonprofit organizations in town.