|JULY 2000||Volume 2 Number 3|
Kay Morey, Friends of Connecticut Libraries and Mary Engels, Connecticut State Library
In 1980, under the guidance of Stanford Warshasky, then Director of the Silas Bronson Library and the encouragement of the Connecticut Library Association and the Connecticut State Library, an ad hoc committee was formed to organize a State Friends of the Library to "promote library enrichment for the state, the community, and the individual". By November of the same year, the Connecticut Friends of the Library (CFL) was formally organized at a state wide conference.
The purpose of the statewide Friends' group is to provide resources, support, and networking opportunities for local Friends' groups throughout the state. Since its inception Connecticut Friends have endeavored to supply information and support to local groups so that they can be successful. A board of representatives of local groups guides the organization.
Officially incorporated in 1981 with 38 group members, a newsletter and a directory were begun. Although changes have occurred over the years, the periodic newsletter and the annual directory continue to this day, providing essential information to libraries, member groups, and interested individuals. In 1981, CFL became involved in the Connecticut Library Association (CLA) annual conference and in 1982 CFL teamed up with CLA to co-sponsor the annual legislative reception, traditions that continue today.
In 1983, CFL began presenting awards for newsletter excellence and, in 1984, began the Distinguished Friend award. Awards continue to recognize and encourage excellence at the local level. CFL closed out the 1980's by changing their name to Friends of Connecticut Libraries (FOCL).
Since 1995 with the encouragement of FOCL the Governor has proclaimed April Friends of Libraries Month. Each year a celebrity spokesperson endorses the activities of library Friends and expresses their love of libraries and the role they play in our lives.
FOCL celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a Gala Dinner at the 2000 annual CLA conference with author Olivia Goldsmith and author illustrator Leonard Everett Smith as honored guests.
As FOCL begins its 21st year, FOCL Point their statewide newsletter, keeps libraries, Friends groups, and individual members current with ongoing activities around the state; as well as matters that could affect library services. The annual Membership Directory now includes information on upcoming group events and book sales. With the help of the Connecticut State Library, FOCL maintains a database of information on successful fundraisers, membership drives, by-law preparation, etc. Workshops on topics of interest to Friends continue and board members continue to visit with local libraries and Friends groups to provide information and support.
Currently over 100 Friends groups and 40 individuals are members of the state organization. Local groups flourish and the relationship among FOCL, CLA and the State Library is a mainstay of library service in Connecticut.
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