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The Bettendorf Public Library ranks highly among public libraries of its size in the United States. By customer use within our community, it is considered a library of choice.

There are many factors that help make it the library it is. One important factor is the support organizations, and one of those organizations is Friends of the Bettendorf Public Library.

This volunteer group has operated continually since the 1970s. The purpose of the organization is to provide funding for materials and programming requested by the library. Working with the Friends as the Library’s liaison, I have watched the Friends work hard to provide funding that now annually averages $30,000. Several different programs run by the Friends generate this money.

A magazine resale program started in the fall of 1983. Volunteers sort donated magazines that are then sold in Dewey’s Cafe. Magazines are 10 cents each, and sales average more than $550 per month. The income in 2013 totaled almost $7,000. This program provides a profitable source of income for the Friends and is a great recycling effort within the community, keeping thousands of magazines from the landfill. Many customers say they buy the magazines, read them and donate them again, so some magazines are saved from the landfill multiple times.

The Friends also offer copiers for public use within the library. Color copies have been available since 2005. With many people owning computers, use of copiers has dwindled over the past decade. Formerly they provided a very profitable income for the Friends. At their peak in the 1990s, the copiers generated $15,000 a year in profit. Copiers are now a break-even service that the Friends continue providing patrons who need it. The library is appreciative that the Friends continue providing this service.

The Friends are probably most known for their book sales. The first sale at the current location was in 1976, making a profit of $921. Current sales generate thousands. One of the most profitable sales was in Spring of 2013, which netted about $8,500 in profit. The Friends are very proud of these sales. Most of the items are still sold for the nominal price of 50 cents each. The Friends strive to keep breaking their record.

Another revenue source not as well known is the annual membership drive. Membership runs for a calendar year, and the cost to join is nominal. Individual memberships are $5 per year and family memberships are $10. Additional supporting and patron levels of membership also are available. By becoming members, persons help support the library and generate dollars for the Friends. Membership also allows entrance to the Friends Members' Preview Book Sale, held the Friday evening before the general sale. Last year, memberships totaled almost $5,000.

So, if you are looking for a way to support the library, do a little early spring cleaning and donate your extra magazines and books, purchase a few bargain-priced magazines, attend a book sale and consider becoming a Friend of the Bettendorf Public Library.

Gina Barrett is an administrative assistant at the Bettendorf Public Library.

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