Friends of the Library

Volunteer Recognition Event

In 2011, Friends of the Library raised over $200,000 for dozens of special library needs, including digitizing Memphis Room inventory, summer reading programs, staff training, adult services and the purchase of new books. This was the largest Friends annual donation ever, but the actual value of Friends work was a whopping $400,000 last year! Read on to see how this astounding figure was achieved.

Volunteers raise all of this money and they have been doing so since 1962. Over 300 people are dues paying members of Friends. A smaller number perform all the work that nets these funds supporting our Library system, as summarized above. They sort through 175,000 annual donations of books, magazines and audio/visual material contributed by the community, including library discards. That’s an average of 3365 pieces a week! Library staff have first pick of all donations. Volunteers then go to work. They cull unsalable materials and sell to recyclers, keeping hundreds of tons of paper products out of our landfills. Some books are given to local organizations, such as the City Jail, the Veterans Administration, Homeless Vets, Juvenile Court, and many City schools, among others. Those materials deemed to have value, generate funds in the manner described below.

Thousands of books are sold at our twice-yearly general book sale with especially low prices in May and October. These take place on a Friday and Saturday at the Central Library and are visited by myriads of Mid-Southerners.

The Big Book Sale

More current books, in near pristine condition, are sold all year long in our fabulous Second Editions Bookstore off the lobby of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library at 3030 Poplar. There, volunteers help our only paid staff to assist a constant flow of customers, who get amazing value for their dollars. The average cost is $3 per book. Friends members also get 10% off the first week of each month. 20 to 30 special sales are held year-round, including categories such as signed copies, mysteries, cookbooks, science fiction, coffee table books, Judaica and many more popular groups. Sales at Second Editions set a record last year and they continue to grow.

The fastest growing revenue stream is from internet sales through Amazon. The Friends MEMFOL Books currently has over 7,000 volumes listed and the inventory keeps growing. More than 4,000 books were sold to customers nationally last year, nearly doubling last year’s sales.

Over $200,000 worth of donated books collected by the Friends went onto the shelves of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center helping to make up some of the cuts to the library’s collection funding.

Friends in the Second Edition Book Store

Glad you asked.

  • Join the Friends.  Complete the Friends Online Application or obtain printed applications at the Central Library or any branch library. For more information call (901) 415-2840.
  • Sign up for email notifications of all Second Editions special sales in store, big book sales and newsletters.
  • Consider volunteering as few as 3 hours a week. Contact Us for a Friends Volunteer Application or obtain printed applications at the Central Library or any branch library.
  • Tell your friends about our Friends.