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Friends and Volunteers Provide Valuable Help to Library System

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With 31 branches the San Bernardino County Library system is one of the larger public library systems in the country. Last year those branch libraries set new records by serving over a half million patrons, who made over 4.5 million visits to their local library and borrowed over 3 million items.

County residents made use of the library’s public access computers over 970,000 times. Keep in mind that the entire population of San Bernardino County was just over 2 million people as of 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2,035,210). Also, many of the county’s larger cities, including Ontario, Ranch Cucamonga and San Bernardino, have their own city-operated library systems, so it is apparent that residents of San Bernardino County make heavy use of their county branch libraries.

All indications are that all levels of usage are up even more in the current fiscal year, which will end on June 30.

One area where libraries shine is community support. Every branch in the system has a “Friends of the Library” group that does fundraising and provides volunteers for library activities. In a number of cases these Friends’ groups are separately incorporated nonprofits with 501 (c) 3 taxexempt status. In addition to the Friends, library branches also actively recruit community volunteers to do everything from conduct computer classes and tutoring for school children, to teaching English as a Second Language and shelving books.

For the 2009-10 full year, some 5,800 volunteers donated 143,600 hours of their time, which is like having and an additional 133 full time staff. The various Friends of the Library groups also raised $469,000 in cash, which adds important funding to an annual operating budget of some $11 million. These are significant contributions.

The library’s Friends and Volunteers Coordinator, Robin Hoklotubbe, notes that the library puts on an annual conference for its Friends groups and also conducts regional volunteer recognition events so the library can show its appreciation for all that the volunteers do.

“The annual Friends conference enhances Friends groups’ knowledge of fundraising activities, giving them ideas and directions to pursue. Our volunteer recognition events help keep people motivated and let them know we appreciate their efforts, not only on our behalf, but for all the county residents who use our branch libraries.”

Holding regional volunteer recognition events brings together branches that are relatively close to each other, such as in the high desert or the mountains or the Morongo Valley. Some branches are more isolated and so have events just for their volunteers.

The first of this year’s volunteer recognition events took place a little over a week ago in Needles. Additional events are coming up over the next six weeks in Loma Linda, Apple Valley, Fontana, Joshua Tree, Crestline, Big Bear Lake, Mentone and Chino.

For more information, contact Greg Zerovnik, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator for the San Bernardino County Library, at 909-387-9619.

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