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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Ruth Hyatt (center) poses with Bella Vista Friends of the Library president Ashley Jones and vice president Brian Kelly.

The Friends of the Bella Vista Library have been helping the library since the 1980s but, on Wednesday, several members gathered to listen to Ruth Hyatt of the Arkansas State Library.

Hyatt's presentation had been written for new groups but, in Bella Vista, it was more of a reminder of the important basics.

One of Hyatt's first tips was to go to the website,, which is focused on friends organizations. The website offers stories for both friends and foundations. The Bella Vista Library has both types of organizations.

Friends organizations are independent of the library, but they should have a "memo of understanding" to define their role, Hyatt said. They should always have open communications, and that might mean having a friends member attending meetings of the library board -- in Bella Vista, it's the advisory board which meets quarterly -- and having the library director attend friends meetings.

The friends group's board needs to be sure that leadership rotates to avoid allowing a few members too much influence. Since most friends groups do some fundraising, having a diverse board means more good ideas. The board should be open to trying new things.

Keep in mind that gifts to the library can be refused, Hyatt warned. It's better to make sure the library director wants and can use a gift before anything is purchased. In fact, many friends groups donate the cash and allow the director to do the shopping.

It's usually a good idea to avoid a large cash balance in the volunteer groups' accounts for two reasons, Hyatt said. First, there's always the threat that the money could be illegally diverted if it's left in the account. Also, donors want to see how their funds have helped the library. They like results.

Friends groups should always be recruiting new members, Hyatt said, and the best way to do that is face to face.

The Bella Vista Friends numbered over 400 in 2018. They run the Encore Book Store, the used book store inside the library, and hold several other annual fundraisers. Over the past few years, they raised more than $175,000 towards a new addition to the library building, according to former president Pat Kirby.

General News on 02/06/2019

Print Headline: A little help for the Friends

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