Gail Dick loves to read, and she enjoys volunteering.
About a dozen years ago, when the southTemperesident was looking for a new volunteer opportunity, Dick decided to join the Friends of the Tempe Public Library, a member-supported, non-profit organization that helps provide funding for some of the library programs and services.
“I was initially on the library board, so I transferred from there to the Friends,” Dick said. “I’m more of a hands-on person so I wanted to work with the group.”
Dick regularly volunteers with the Friends, helping to process and organize the donated books that come in from a variety of sources, which are then sold in the used-book shop located in the library.
“The book donations come in boxes and in bags, and once they are processed and checked in the books go on the shelves in the used book store,” she said, adding that within the last year or two, the group has also started doing online book sales through Amazon.
“I work to help organize the shelves in the shop, and it’s very enjoyable.”
Mary Anna Bastin, volunteer coordinator for the city of Tempe’s Volunteer Office, said that the Friends are the biggest supporter of the library, from working as cashiers in the book shop and serving on the library’s advisory board to running the Connections Café, a popular full-service coffee bar located on the main floor of the library that sells specialty drinks and snacks.
“They help fund programs that are very important to the library—for example, the summer reading program for children,” she said.
“The Friends help to finance that and get the prizes for the kids.”
Everything not covered by funds allocated by the city’s budget are supported by the funds the Friends program raises, Bastin said, like library staff development, book purchases and adult classes.
Although no one is exactly sure when the Friends program got its start, Bastin said old paperwork from the late 1970s indicates the organization helped raise just over $1,100 in one year. This is a big contrast to 2010, when the group had sales of more than $100,000.
The Friends also run the Tempe Connections program, a non-profit community service initiative that targets adults age 50 and up and provides them with opportunities to access wide range of learning programs, volunteer options and more, according to Bastin.
Dick said she thoroughly enjoys the time she spends volunteering with the Friends organization.
“I just really like lending a hand where I can, so this was a good fit for me. It’s a very pleasant atmosphere filled with pleasant people,” she said.
“And one of the great perks is that I can purchase the used books at the same price the public can, and so I rarely go home without a new book or two to read.”
Tempe Public Library is located at 3500 S. Rural Road. Anyone interested in joining the Friends of the Tempe Public Library organization can email Tempefriends@yahoo.com or Rebecca_Bond@tempe.gov . Annual dues are $25 for an individual, $35 for families, and $10 for seniors 65 and up.
To make a donation of used books, stop by the library’s book shop.