Support Your Local Library

Named for Mayor Charles E. Beatley, Jr, the fourth branch of the Alexandria Library system was opened in 2000 at 5005 Duke Street.(Courtesy photo)

The Friends of Beatley Library

Ever wondered what goes into supporting your local public library? If so, you should check out the Friends of Beatley Central Library. The Beatley Friends is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization that promotes the interests and programs of the library.

The Beatley Friends’ website urges the importance of recasting the public’s understanding of public libraries, suggesting they are much more than convenient places for books, magazines, and various electronic media, as is commonly thought. Alexandria’s public libraries, in fact, also provide many means for self-improvement and education available to every citizen of Alexandria, supporting the “Healthy & Thriving Residents” focus area of the City’s budget.

Did You Know Your Library Has Meeting Room Space for You and Your Small Business?

The public libraries offer hundreds of programs for children that support early literacy and school readiness. The Alexandria Library is a major component of the City’s educational system delivering Self-Directed Education, Research Assistance and Instruction.

For the City’s English language learners, the public library offers free weekly courses, and small business owners can receive individual research assistance, meeting room space and technology access. Job seekers are also provided with assistance writing resumes and cover letters and free access to computers and wireless services.

While Beatley and other libraries do their best to meet the needs of every citizen in Alexandria, that can sometimes be a challenge. That’s when the Friends of Beatley Library step in.

Why the Library Needs Friends

One of the ways the Friends of Beatley supports the library is through advocacy by championing mission, purpose and requirements of the Beatley Central Public Library before the City’s and Commonwealth’s legislative and governing bodies and by serving as a voice in the Alexandria community. Through communications and marketing, they promote Beatley as the vibrant center for the pursuit of knowledge, access to technology and cultural events to raise awareness about Beatley’s programs and services.

Fundraising is a key goal of the Friends of Beatley and goes to support the purchase of much needed library equipment and program development that might not otherwise be supported by the City budget alone, says Nancy Blanton, Vice President of Book Sales. “The Beatley Friends help the Library achieve what it might not be able to on its own. We have raised more than $180,000 for Beatley since 2012.” One such program that’s benefited from these funds is Summer Quest, which bridges the reading and learning gap between summer and the start of a new school year. “As we know, summer break can be challenging when it comes to reading for school-aged children,” says Nancy.

“Summer Quest supports continued learning and expanded literacy that prepares children for the new school year.”

Funds raised by the Friends of Beatley have also gone toward the purchase of four new computers, over 1,000 educational programs, and support for library renovations such as brand-new removable shelving to house additional tools and resources. The Friends of Beatley have been instrumental in the design and maintenance of the Beatley Library’s Reading Garden, a one of a kind quiet reading space for community use.

Volunteers

Nancy highlights the amazing support they provide to Beatley but notes that none of it could be done without the active participation of their volunteers. “Our volunteers are critically important to the work we do and the lifeline of the organization, especially when they host their book sales.” Each year, the Friends’ host two huge book sales, where customers can choose from over 20,000 books as well as CDs, DVDs, and audio books. Their next book sale will be held at Beatley from March 20th – 24th and the Friends’ encourages the whole community to come out. “A lot goes into the preparation of the book sales and this is where the dedication of our volunteers becomes paramount,” says Nancy.

Twenty-five volunteers are currently on schedule, with some working two to three hours per week. “We are very flexible when it comes to our volunteers” says Nancy. Volunteers are meticulous when reviewing donations to ensure all donations are in good condition, clean, no water damage, mold free, odorless, pages whole, binding intact, and free of highlights, underlining, and notes. Donations can be left by Beatley’s circulation desk in the designated area. The Friends’ website lists materials that should be recycled rather than donated such as old encyclopedias, hardback dictionaries, yearbooks, atlases, and maps as they can quickly become outdated.

Next Volunteer Meeting is Feb 12, All Invited

If you are interested in becoming a Friend of the Beatley Central Library, now might be the best time for you. The Friends of Beatley are holding their annual meeting on February 12th at 7pm in the large conference room at the library. “We are looking for new members and we hope to meet potential members at our annual meeting,” says Nancy. “We highly encourage the community to come out!”