Whatcom Magazine

Community Groups: Friends of the Bellingham Public Library

If you like libraries and books, the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library would love to have you as a member.

Established 63 years ago, the all-volunteer nonprofit group encourages community support for the library, sponsors educational programs, and raises money for library needs, mostly through its popular book sales. Last year, the group raised about $90,000 for the library.

Members don’t have to be active volunteers, but many members do help, especially at the several busy library sales each year. Volunteers pick up donated titles from Village Books and sort through thousands of books that people donate directly to the library. Books too battered to sell are put on the library’s free shelf, nearly new books are made available for purchase on the library’s main floor, and other titles are held for the next sale.

“There’s a huge amount of books being processed,” says Garland Richmond, Friends president. “It’s an extremely efficient operation.”

High-value donated books are sold online by a book dealer. For example, the sale of a first-edition, inscribed volume of poems by Robert Frost netted the Friends $9,500.

“Once in a great while we find a book that is quite valuable,” Richmond says.

Members also maintain the stacks of free magazines at the library, help with the annual Whatcom READS! program, and provide new children’s books to new parents.