The power of a mob. #40: 2011
Never underestimate the power of a mob.
I re-learned this a few weeks ago as I watched the Friends of the Guelph Public Library orchestrate their fifth hugely successful book sale.
A group of about 25 retired librarians and educators collected 46,700 lightly used books, CDs, games, and records. In 13 hours, they sold more than 32,000 titles and netted $40,000 to support the building of a new Main Library in Guelph, Ontario.
After five years, the book sale mob (and I mean that is the nicest of ways!) is a well-oiled machine. From the sorters at “the factory” to the public relations and money guys, everyone has a job, and they stick to it! They make it look easy. Nobody organizes like librarians. We’ve written the book and put into practice the fine art of planning events and organizing resources.
The Friends of the Guelph Public Library start in the balmy days of the Ontario summer to find a location (for the last two years, an old factory), begin collecting books, develop a marketing and public relations plan, and marshal the work force. By early fall, the factory is buzzing with more than 100 volunteers who sort into categories and organize the growing pile of donations. The factory becomes their second home as sale week approaches. It’s a 24/7 affair.
Public libraries are an interesting conglomerate governed by an autonomous citizen board, financed by municipal dollars, and advocated for by a dedicated not-for-profit group, often called Friends. It’s a strange partnership, often complicated by competing agendas and goals. However, perhaps it is this oddity, this “three legged stool,” that keeps us focused, innovating, and most of all, loved.
The more than 49,500 customers and staff members of GPL are truly humbled and indebted to the Friends of the Guelph Public Library for keeping the passion alive and the goal of a new Main Library in plain sight. Together, and with your help, we are making a difference.
Kitty Pope #41 November 2011 firstname.lastname@example.org