Many of the library’s most popular programs and services are not funded by the public budget but underwritten by the FOL. For example, we support Children’s Great Library Card Adventure, the popular Sandwiched In lunchtime lecture series for adults, free SAT/ACT prep classes for teens, the SoundSwap music series, the Earth Day festival, and the summer “pop up” library at the LIRR station, among many other initiatives. The Friends is also the sole sponsor of the library’s popular Museum Pass program which provides free access to more than two dozen metro-area cultural institutions.
The Friends is the sole sponsor of the library’s “Library of Games and Gadgets” program, which allows patrons to borrow GoPro cameras, Orion StarBlast telescopes, musical instruments, Kindles loaded with e-books, birding kits with binoculars, virtual reality kits and an expanding list of other items for use outside the library. The FOL is helping the library address the digital divide, purchasing 10 Chromebooks that can be checked out, along with internet hotspots, and also funds the wildly popular, publicly accessible 3D printers, the centerpiece of the library’s “MakerSpace Lab” on the lower level. In the Lab patrons also can access a state-of-the-art podcast and recording studio, digital conversion devices (such as VHS to DVD and vinyl to MP3 converters) and additional leading-edge tech.
The FOL produces its own special programming such as Paperback Swaps, FOL University lectures, and special author appearances. Our signature program, and sole fundraising event, is the Richard D. Whittemore Annual Book & Author Luncheon held each May and named for the first president of the FOL. To view photos from our 53rd annual luncheon in 2022 featuring Lidia Bastianich click here ; for screenshots from our 52nd held virtually on Zoom in 2021 and featuring novelist Geraldine Brooks, click here. Unfortunately, the 51st luncheon was canceled in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To view photos of our 50th anniversary luncheon featuring Meg Wolitzer and Anthony Tommasini in 2019 click here. To see photos from the 2018 luncheon featuring Alice McDermott and Russell Shorto click here. To see photos from the 2017 luncheon featuring Alice Hoffman and Paul Freedman click here (see 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010).
In addition, the Friends oversees the Ruth D. Bogen Memorial Collection, which is devoted exclusively to literary works of significance. The Collection is supported by the Bogen Fund, an endowment created in 2000 by a generous grant from the Bogen family and which is administered by the Friends. Since its inception, the Bogen Fund has contributed more than $75,000 to the library’s book budget, adding thousands of quality books, ebooks, and audiobooks to the collection
The Friends is the primary sponsor of the library’s online initiatives, and provided a major gift to create the library website as well as funding updates and redesigns. The FOL continues to support new digital features. For example, the FOL is co-sponsor of free online homework help and test prep for K-12 students (in English and Spanish) via tutor.com.
The Friends also funds special initiatives such as new exhibit display cases for the local history center, materials for the ESOL program, and a Canon video camera that allows the library to provide high-quality streaming and filming of its events. The Friends of the Library Award is a prestigious honor recognizing extraordinary volunteer service to the library over many years.