15 Ways the Grand Forks Public Friends Give Back to the Library

Grand Forks Public Friends is a group of enthusiastic volunteers that supports the library by raising funds and promoting library programs and services.

Friends President Debbie McLennan and Library Director Wendy Wendt dress as “curious potatoes” in the 2021 Potato Bowl Parade.

In the last five years, the Friends have raised almost $75,000 for the library. Currently over 50 individual and business members contribute annually to the Friends, and many actively volunteer their time and talent to assist with various fundraising efforts. Additionally, seven members serve on the Friends board.

“The library has played such an important role in my life starting when I was a young farm kid. During summer vacations, heading to the library ‘in town’ was a huge treat. When I moved to Grand Forks over ten years ago, the library was the first place I looked to volunteer and meet ‘my people,’” says Friends President Debbie McLennan. “I love being a member of the Friends. When people learn I volunteer at the library, inevitably their faces light up and they exclaim, ‘I LOVED the library when I was little, but I haven’t been in years.’ It’s great to be able to tell them to come back and see all the new things the library has to offer as well as to encourage them to bring the next generation to experience the same joy.” 

When people learn I volunteer at the library, inevitably their faces light up and they exclaim, ‘I LOVED the library when I was little, but I haven’t been in years.’ It’s great to be able to tell them to come back and see all the new things the library has to offer…

Debbie McLennan

Debbie’s passion shows—in 2020, she was named the Major Benefactor of the Year by the North Dakota Library Association, recognizing the significant contributions she has made to Grand Forks Public.

Other officers of the organization include:

  • Aimee Rogers
  • Alicia Walstad
  • Kathy Iverson
  • Kaylee Cusack
  • Theresa Brorby
  • Noelle Meyers

In no particular order, here are 15 ways Grand Forks Public Friends have supported the library over the last few years:

  1. Hosted the 2019 Dueling Pianos event. (It certainly wasn’t a quiet night at the library!)
  2. Purchased a Cricut machine used in many programs.
  3. Donated $5,000 for the creation of an outdoor Musical Playground for Curious Minds.
  4. Supported STEM education through sponsoring FIRST LEGO League registrations.
  5. Purchased a fridge for the staff break room.
  6. Provided $5,000 for creating Early Literacy Outreach kits for local daycares, bringing library resources out into Grand Forks County.
  7. Coordinated School Supply Drives for CVIC, supplying backpacks full of supplies and a new book for 75 local kids in 2019 alone.
  8. Provided funds to create the Mezzanine Art Gallery inside the library, which features local artists on a quarterly rotation.
  9. Supported free artistic events and classes that inspire the inner creator in everyone.
  10. Created the Teen Novel(ties) Book Box, a (free!) bi-monthly subscription service for local teens to enjoy a book handpicked by a librarian, paired with an assortment of “novelties.”
  11. Organized and hosted countless used book sales.
  12. Created and sold Furry Friends of the Library calendars.
  13. Donated funds to add changing stations in the renovated family restrooms.
  14. Sponsor the Summer and Winter Reading Programs every year.
  15. Continually supply (good!) coffee to energize library staff.

Not only do the Friends host two annual book sales and maintain a year-round book sale rack inside the library, but they are also a charity with Amazon Smile. Log into smile.amazon.com and shop away (if “Friends of the Grand Forks Public Library” is not displayed, you can search the name). A portion of your purchase will be donated to the Friends.

“We hope our work helps people realize the public library is so much more than a place to check out books,” Debbie shares. “It is a place for the community to come together, engage with different insights and be encouraged to try something new.”

Do you want to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around you? There’s a place for you with the Grand Forks Public Friends! You could volunteer at a book sale, sort books, address envelopes, host a reception—the opportunities are endless. For more information about Friends membership, stop by the library or visit gflibrary.com.

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