It’s no secret that libraries across the nation benefit greatly from donations and rely on
volunteers. Did you know that there are many groups of citizens across the nation who work together
for the benefit of their public library? These groups are usually called the “Friends of the Library.”
Friends groups are run by volunteers independent from the library but they directly support library
services in their community.
It’s a wide-held belief that the first group of volunteers to call themselves the "Friends of the Library" in the United States, began in 1922 in Illinois. Even though Friends groups are independent of the library, the relationship between the Friends and the library is crucial to serving the community well.
Avon Park, Lake Placid, and Sebring libraries are fortunate to have a Friends group for their library. Each Friends group has a used bookstore that is completely run by volunteers and stocked with gently used, donated items ranging from books to DVDs.
Bookstore hours for the Friends of the Avon Park Library are Tuesday 10:30 am – 1 pm, Wednesday through Friday 10 am – 1 pm, and Saturday 10 am – 12 pm. To contact the Friends of the Avon Park Library please call Avon Park Library at 863-452-3803 and ask for a member of the Friends.
Bookstore hours for the Lake Placid Memorial Library Friends are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 11 am – 3 pm. Their phone number is 863-699-3713.
Bookstore hours for the Sebring Friends of the Library are Tuesday through Friday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm and Saturday 10 am – 2 pm. Their phone number is 863-314-0053.
Friends Groups are a source of volunteers who help in the library and funds from the used bookstores benefit patrons in many different ways. Funding from the Friends groups in Highlands County has been used for things such as providing shopping bags to patrons in the library, replacing furniture, and organizing events for the community. The Friends groups also sponsor the Libraries’ summer programs which benefit students in our county during summer break. In fact, thanks to their generous support, even though Highlands County Libraries were closed due to COVID-19, the libraries distributed over 1,000 take-home craft kits in June and July. The Friends also sponsored a subscription for access to a reading program app. Over 100 citizens of Highlands County registered for a reading challenge and hundreds of books were read during June and July.
If you are interested in learning more about these vital philanthropic groups and how they impact you, visit your local library and Friends bookstore. Ask us about volunteer opportunities, browse the store, or consider donating gently used books the next time you spring clean.