Some of the better known programs at the Hermiston Public Library, such as the youth summer reading program and Elder Libraries, might not exist without the help of one group: The Friends of the Library.

“Friends are exactly what they say they are: They’re friends to the library,” director Marie Baldo said. “They do different campaigns to earn money that they then turn over to the library, they’re a source of willing and able volunteers and they’re our support group and political action committee. When somebody says ‘I don’t know where to find this?’ a Friends member points them to the library. When people say we don’t need libraries anymore, a Friends member will disagree. They’re our biggest rooters, our booster club.”

As an organization, the Friends of the Hermiston Public Library group dates back more than 20 years to when the group helped raise donations for the library’s current building. Fundraising remains a priority for the group.

“The Friends help us provide services. Through a donation from the Friends, we were able to do a matching grant with the Gates Foundation so we have all new internet stations. With the reduction in city funding to all departments, that wouldn’t have been possible without the funding from the Friends,” Baldo said. “Especially as our discretionary funding shrinks, things like the summer reading program are becoming harder and harder to fund, and the Friends are critical to keeping that.”

About 85 names are on the Friends of the Library roster. Those people range from active volunteers who help with the summer reading program to donors who prefer to be involved from a distance.

“You can be a friend and just give money, or you can be a friend and slave away during the summer reading program movie. It just depends on what level of support you’re comfortable with,” Baldo said. “We have all types.”

In addition to helping the library, the group has given its annual “Friend of the Year” award since 1996, and an elected board meets quarterly. Anyone interested in joining the Friends of the Hermiston Public Library or becoming more involved can contact the library at 541-667-5050.

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