Friends, In Deed

New Library Friends group holding meeting Tues.
Welcome, Friends.

We all need friends.

And that may be especially true these days for public libraries, most of which face perennial shortages in funding and ever-lengthening to-do lists and ever-expanding challenges in integrating new technologies.

The new Dillon Friends of the Library group intends to lend many helping hands and other forms of contribution to the Dillon Public Library.

The group will hold its first organizational 7 p.m. meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, in the Dillon Public Library, when anyone interested in aiding the local library is invited to attend and become a Friend.

“We want people who love libraries and books and want to see our library continue to thrive and grow and continue to offer great services to the community—and to help expand those services,” said Debbie Sporich, one of Dillon’s leading booklovers who has worked over the past year to help lay the groundwork for Dillon Friends of the Library.

“What we really need now are people who can get out there and get stuff done for the Library,” said Sporich, who owns and operates The Bookstore in downtown Dillon.

“We are looking for people to take on committees—membership, fundraising, communication. We’re looking for people who could form a pool of volunteers the Library could draw from when it is doing an event and needs help to pull it off.”

A Friends of Library veteran from her time in Havre, Dillon Public Library Director Lori Roberts said a local Friends could help the Dillon Public Library keep up with essential functions, pull of extra programming and bring in vital funds.

“Most libraries are like ours in Dillon, located in government buildings. So they can’t be 501(c)(3)s,” said Roberts, of the term applied by the IRS to tax-exempt nonprofit groups.

“And most grant money is limited to 501(c)(3)s. So having a Friends group that can apply for grants is essential,” continued Roberts, noting that grants are often necessary for a library to gain up-to-date computers and software.

Friends members can also offer vital support to a library in pulling off special events and just performing day-to-day tasks.

“The Friends were a great support system for the public library in Havre,” said Roberts, who returned from the Hi-Line to her native Dillon in 2015 and became the local library director last spring.

“We have only a staff of four who actually work in the Dillon Public Library. So, to keep a staff member upstairs and one downstairs and also try to run programs can really stretch us,” said Roberts, who served as assistant library director and children’s librarian of the Havre-Hill County Library.

“I would love to see a lot of the Friends in here helping with just some basic stuff, to read stories to kids, and to help put on events and fundraisers,” added Roberts, who also hopes Friends can help pull off the Library’s upcoming Murder Mystery Dinner, Haunted House and pie social.

The benefits will run in both directions, according to Roberts.

“We had so much fun when I was part of a Friends group. There are some really enjoyable people out there who are great to hang out with while you’re doing something positive for the community,” continued Roberts, who lent a lot of volunteer time to last year’s Summer Reading Program put on by the Dillon Public Library.

“I am really excited to see the Friends group get going here and looking forward to working with more community members.”

First, the Dillon Friends of the Library needs to pull off its initial organizational meeting, Tuesday.

“This is unchartered territory for our community and we need help,” said Sporich, noting that many other nearby cities, including Twin Bridges and Virginia City, have had longstanding, thriving library Friends groups.

“Everyone is welcome to come. And we are really encouraging anyone who has been involved with a Friends in another community to come to offer us some advice and insight,” said Sporich.

“All that people need to bring are their calendars,” said Roberts, “so we can all coordinate all the things we’re going to do together.”

The Dillon Friends of the Library group will hold its initial organizational meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10, in the Dillon Public Library, 121 S. Idaho St. in downtown Dillon.

For more information, call Debbie Sporich at 683-6807 or the Dillon Public Library at 683-4544.