The Friends of the Mountain View Library is an organization of volunteers whose aim is to provide the Library with funds for special projects that don’t fit within the Library’s budget and for specific reading materials.
Although there was a small Friends group before the opening of the new Library building in 1997 (skip down to “Ancient History” …), the current organization really started then. Marge Pearlman was the long-time President of the older group and continued as President of the current organization for a few years and as a very active volunteer until just recently.
There are three basic ways the Friends raise funds. The three revenue streams (and their history described below) combined make it possible for the Friends to contribute around $100K/year to the Library’s special projects.
Book Sales – History
The most traditional fund raiser is the periodic sales of donated books. Beginning in 1997, these sales were held in the Community Room of the Library but were soon moved to the Book Mobile Garage and driveway behind the garage. Shelving was installed on three walls in the garage to hold the inventory accumulated between sales. This move was a real game changer in that the sale inventory did not have to be moved each time there was a sale. The Library’s support for these facilities is instrumental in making our work so much easier.
On sale days, tables are set up inside and out of the Garage to hold boxes of books to augment those shelved on the Garage walls.
Anyone is welcome to come to the sales and to purchase books. As a special benefit for members of the Friends, a “Members’ Only” hour is set aside at the start of the sale.
Sales are usually held about four times a year and generally earn $4,000 to $6,000 per sale.
Friends Lobby Shop – History
One of the main innovations when the new Library opened (in 1997) was the addition of the Friends Lobby Shop. Ruth and Don Lawson and Mickey Kohn were instrumental in its creation. You can view a beautiful etched front door to the Shop commemorating Ruth Lawson’s efforts.
Volunteers staff the Shop and sell two kinds of merchandise:
- High quality donated books, CDs and DVDs for both adults and children.
- A variety of gift items ranging from ball point pens and kneadable erasers to jewelry, small toys and puppets. Special items and displays are featured for various holidays.
In general, the Shop provides around $26,000/year in net revenues.
On-Line Sales – History
In 2005, we became one of Amazon’s Used Book Dealers and started offering special value books on-line; these books are then shipped to the purchasers, which greatly expands our customer base. In recent years we added eBay as an additional online sales outlet. These sales started in an upstairs room of the Library using donated shipping materials. In the first full year of operation, we had net sales of $6,000. We now have a full-fledged operation which generated $34,000 in the year prior to the COVID shutdown.
“Ancient” – History
Prior to 1997 the Friends were very active but operated out of an old PG&E building on the corner of Mercy and Bryant Streets (that is now a parking lot owned by the City). They used a Community Room on Rengstorff Avenue (!) for sales, which involved a lot of moving of books, etc. across streets, up the stairs and on to display shelves and then back to the building when the sale was over. The Friends had to rent moving trucks for their larger sales; all in all, it was a huge amount of physical work. Life is so much better now.
Ruth Lawson was one of the most consequential Library directors in those days (she got the City Council to fund a collection of that strange new format VHS Tapes despite Council’s fears that the Library would compete with rental businesses) and Mickey Kohn was an Adult Services Manager. They both shaped the wonderful Friends facilities we have today. When they retired, they worked with other Friends to envision a Lobby Shop for the new building as it was being planned. They were also instrumental in having workroom space allocated for the Friends.