This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of Friends of the Library, Launceston, which was formed at a public meeting in March 1992 to provide support for public libraries after a significant funding cut in the Department of Education and Arts.
The Friends began with some 30 members in a whirl of meetings with the Director of Library Services, the Mayor and Education Minister John Beswick.
Senior staff of the State Library of Tasmania, somewhat alarmed by the possibility that it might be an independent 'loose cannon' interfering with their management of the sector, immediately introduced rules for such groups.
These rules were ignored, but the message was clear - the most productive course was going to be through fundraising and volunteer work that complemented staff duties.
The group flourished, gaining greater and more varied community members in the following decade. They joined in programs for children and the Hear-a-Book service for sight-impaired library users, and started a program of monthly coffee morning speakers in the Phil Leonard Room.
Friends gathered programs and posters for the ephemera collection, initiated the Victorian & Edwardian Collection consisting of books from the Launceston Mechanics' Institute, and participated in a community project to knit jumpers for penguins affected by oil spills like that from the Iron Baron off Low Head.
In their next decade the Friends focused on the children's area, buying colourful equipment and furniture, participated in Rock & Rhyme for toddlers, and collaborated with Launceston Library to win the FOLA's national Peter McInnes Award for services to children and young people.
This collaboration extended into publishing ventures: three volumes of On the Tide, Voyages in a Caravan, a three-volume Local History Series, and the Launceston Family Album project which resulted in Examiner articles from 2005 to 2007, a book and CD compilation of these, a volume on the Tasmanian Exhibition 1891-92 and a still-continuing website.
In 2008 Friends took over the annual sale of books, entirely donated by a generous public keen to support their local library.
This became the largest contributor to Friends' funds, and a much-anticipated March event for readers seeking bargains.
With increased revenue the Friends have more recently been able to buy significant library equipment such as two microfilm readers (at $15,000 each), large screen television monitors, MP3 players and four archival quality display cases, as well as setting aside $5000 annually for the library to purchase smaller items as needed.
The library has an active program hosting children's authors, speakers, artists and performers, many of whom are funded and arranged by the Friends.
Alongside this, members involve themselves in the many volunteer programs run by Launceston Library, including digitising records, delivering books to homebound clients and mounting displays.
On Friday June 24 Friends will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a free morning tea between 10.30 and 11.30, so come along.
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