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Barlow Branch of the Washington County Public Library

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By Anna Henry, Manager, Barlow Branch

The Barlow Branch of the Washington County Public Library was built in 1998 to serve the needs of the people in the Western Washington County area. The Friends of the Barlow Library was organized in 2000 as a group interested in books and libraries with a desire to help sponsor programs and exhibits, to encourage the gifts of books, materials, endowments and bequests to the Barlow Branch Library, to work with the library on special projects, and to promote the Branch’s activities and services.

The Friends of the Barlow Library, Inc. is a nonprofit successor group originally established as the Friends of the Barlow Library.  In 2007 the Friends incorporated as a nonprofit and obtained 501(c)(3) status with a board of directors elected annually to oversee the group.

The Friends offer many services to the community through volunteer and financial support. The Friends provide additional funding for programming and projects that enrich our community and expand library offerings. One of the largest programs the Friends helps to sponsor is the Summer Reading program for all ages beginning with infants through seniors. They have also sponsored several adult murder mystery nights and other children and adult programs. The Friends have helped the library maintain and sponsor our T.A.B. (teen advisory board).

The Friends generate much of their fundraising revenue through book sales. They have been able to provide services including laminating, die cuts, booklet binding, tote bags and other promotional items, guest speakers, craft projects and books for the county’s Secret Santa program to name just a few. The Friends have successfully procured grants for purchasing laptop computers and a new restroom facility in the building’s lower level.

Although incentives are primarily limited to a deep appreciation of the Friends as volunteers and a satisfaction of supporting and encouraging literacy, without the group much of the additional help and programs would not exist. The Friends’ fundraising activities have provided the Barlow Branch Library with tens of thousands of dollars over years. The grants and fundraising endeavors have been extremely important, but the most critical and valuable aspect to the library by the Friends is their dedication and the many hours of volunteering their time and service to the branch.