CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The local library volunteer Friends group, Friends of the Clifton Park and Halfmoon Library, has been recognized by the state’s oldest and most well-known library association for its many years of active support for the Clifton Park and Halfmoon Public Library and libraries in general.
Late last month, the Friends of Libraries Section of the New York Library Association awarded the Clifton Park-Halfmoon group the Daniel W. Casey Library Advocacy Award. Given annually since 1993, the award honors a volunteer member or a group from the library community whose efforts have contributed to the growth of libraries or Friends of the Library organizations.
The NYLA Friends Library Section awards committee announced two recipients of the award for 2020; Friends of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library and Friends of the Olean Public Library.
In its announcement, the Friends Library Section described the Friends of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library as an exceptionally active group of dedicated volunteers that was incorporated 25 years ago when the library was faced with a major budget vote. Since that time, the announcement said, the group continues to support a “Get Out The Vote” campaign each year.
The Friends of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library meet annually with the elected Library Board of Trustees and have representation at the Board of Trustees’ monthly meetings.
The Friends group supports many library programs and services, including serving on the steering committee for the annual Two Towns One Book program, the Nature Story walks, community read activities, numerous cultural events held at the library, international and national travel tours, the museum pass program, community student scholarships, the purchase of equipment and supplies, and with outreach tables at many community events.
The Friends group organizes and implements all book sale fundraisers and coordinates fundraising/membership drives such as the "50 for 50 Collector's Club" to recruit memberships at the $50 level and has facilitated several professional educational opportunities at both NYLA Annual Conference programs and in an FLS webinar.
The Friends group has shown its generosity with other Friends groups and library staff members by sharing details about its innovative leadership structure and its quad-president leadership team.
This past year the Friends assisted the library with the formation of the Clifton Park and Halfmoon Public Library Foundation as part of the library’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Nominator and Assistant Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library Director James Foster noted in making the nomination that he had been “impressed by their ability to continue meeting the original goals of the group and meet the needs of a modern library”.
Former library staff member Kathy Browne recalled that as a staff member involved with the Friends’ early Steering Committee and as staff liaison to the organization for twenty years, “this been the most dedicated, hard-working, focused group of volunteers I have ever encountered."
Wilma Jozwiak, one of the Friends’ innovative quad-leaders said the group was surprised to receive the Casey Award, and as volunteers, were extremely happy to see that they were valued by the library staff.
“We're lucky to have a wonderfully collegial Friends Board, and the best volunteers around,” Jozwiak said. “That, and a wonderful Library staff and Board of Trustees to work with are the main reasons we've been a successful Friends group. We all care a lot about the Library and working with the staff and Trustees we know we can be part of giving our community excellent Library supports and services.”
Jozwiak said by remotely watching the Library’s staff work their collective tails off during the pandemic in order to reimagine the Library as a virtual resource, and then carefully and safely begin to reopen it, she was reminded that a library is as good as its staff.
“And our staff is amazing,” she said.
Library Director Alex Gutelius credited the Friends of the Library for being an incredibly supportive organization.
“They work tirelessly to support our annual budget vote, assist with funding for major author events and summer reading programs, and provide hospitality for many of our events,” Gutelius said. “The Friends also provide many programs themselves such as the annual Two Towns One Book events and the Plant Swap and Sale. Our Library is fortunate to have such a wonderful group of people who are willing to volunteer their time, ideas, and knowledge to help us be successful. We are proud of the Friends for receiving this well-deserved honor.”