first_book_sale_2_-_compressed.jpg1977: Jimmy Carter had just moved into the White House, Wesley Bolin was filling in as governor over at the Arizona State Capitol, and Margaret Hance was settling in to her second year at City Hall. At the old central library, there was talk amongst some Library Advisory Board members that the city was growing faster than library services could keep up. To them, it was clear that the Phoenix Public Library system needed Friends.

The first Friends of the Phoenix Public Library numbered only slightly more than a dozen, mostly concerned volunteers from the system’s branch libraries. At the helm was Harriet McIntosh, a local writer, library patron, and co-founder of the Sedona and Tucson Friends groups. The very first item on the agenda: sell donated books to raise funds to supplement the library’s budget. As the new Phoenix Friends met and engaged more concerned citizens, operations expanded to haunting City Hall during the budget cycle and taking on larger projects, like supporting bonds to build new library branches for the growing suburbs.

5_and_8_are_Great_postcard_-_compressed.jpg1988: By 1988, the population of Metropolitan Phoenix had boomed and city officials brought to voters a major “art bond” designed to define and characterize Phoenix’s culture. Questions 5 and 8 would provide a new central library as well as renovation of the art museum and the Orpheum Theatre. The Friends sprang into action rallying Phoenicians to vote in favor of the bond. It passed. But …

1994: With completion of the new, Will Bruder designed central library in sight, the bond funds ran out. The Friends answered, quickly raising more than $1 million to finish the library which, at the time, had the largest reading room of any public library in the country.

2010_campaign_postcard_-_resized.jpg2010: Library-loving Phoenicians will not soon forget the notorious green postcard campaign, managed by the Friends in response to the City’s proposal to close 6 libraries during a particularly challenging budget year. Friends posted themselves at nearly all of Phoenix’s public libraries for weeks inviting every patron who walked in to sign a postcard telling City Council “Don’t Close My Library!” After nearly 20,000 of these cards were collected, Friends directors hand-delivered them to the Mayor.  But they didn’t stop there. The Friends went hi-tech in their campaign and also encouraged hundreds of supporters to submit a form email along with their personal comments to City Council. Not a single branch was closed …

Today, the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library supports all 17 Phoenix Public Libraries and has members at every branch. Please explore our site to learn how YOU can be a Friend of your library!


get updates