Lawrence Library Friends & Foundation plans big celebration for 50 years of volunteering – The Lawrence Times


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Angela Hyde is ready to dance. She booked a babysitter and bought an outfit: bell bottom jeans and a loud ’70s shirt.

Hyde, program coordinator for the Lawrence Public Library Friends and Foundation (LPLFF), attends The Book of Love: A Very ’70s Prom, being held Friday night at venue 1235.


The event is a celebration of the LPLFF’s 50th anniversary. Registration is available here.

The book of love: a very 70s ball

7-9 p.m. Friday, October 28 at 1235 Location, 1235 N. Third St. in Lawrence

Registration is available at this link.

“We’re going to have literary-themed drinks, and lots of snacks and all kinds of fun things,” Hyde said. “Costumes aren’t required, but I love any occasion to dress up.”

Designed to celebrate 50 years of Friends and Foundation, formerly known as Friends, the 70s Ball is the closing event of Booktoberfest.

DJs Jon Harrison and Cyrus D will spin hits from the 70s. And patrons can dance to the flicker of a disco ball.

Origin story

A group of Lawrencians founded Friends in 1972. Among them was Mary Burchill, a now retired librarian at KU Law Library. At first they called the group the Carnegie Association of the Lawrence Library.

“We thought we were so smart because that would make the acronym CALL,” Burchill said.

Mary Burchill in the 1980s

Members of the group placed a barrel in the lobby of the library, asking patrons to donate their used books.

“Well, people started putting their books in there and it was pretty amazing that it worked,” Burchill said.

The first sale brought in $1,700, or almost $12,000 after adjusting for inflation today. Sales were successful in subsequent years, but the volunteers faced obstacles.

“After you sorted the books, you couldn’t leave them where you sorted them because there just wasn’t room, so you took them to that garage,” Burchill said. “It was decided at some point, I think in the mid-80s…we needed more retail space.”

Friends decided to put up a tent to accommodate the thousands of books they were selling.

“And when that tent was put up, people in the community knew the sale was going to happen very soon. It was very good publicity,” Burchill said.

Booksellers traveled to Lawrence to stock up on products for their stores.

“They would find a good selection of books and then resell them,” Hyde said. “Now this was before eBay and Amazon, so they were selling them in physical stores. And we were selling — to a bookseller, we were selling $700 and $800 worth of books. Each book was priced separately, which was a lot of work.

Book sales went smoothly every year until September 2013. That year, someone who had dropped off a large batch of books returned and reported a bed bug infestation. This sale has been cancelled. The collection of books was discontinued and the books already collected were isolated for about a year.

“That led to our proceeding now,” Burchill said. “Every book that comes in, we go through it, put it in a bin and keep it closed until we can go through each one and make sure there’s nothing alive in it. And if there is, we recycle it right away.

A few years ago, Friends members adopted an easy pricing system, Burchill said. Initially, volunteers reviewed and assigned an individual price to each book. With thousands of books entering the library each week, this method has become unwieldy.

Now, books are priced by type: $2 for hardbacks and audiobooks, and $1 for almost everything else.

“Believe me, it was a real decision because you thought you might lose money on it. How do you know?” said Burchill. “But they never lost anything.”

In 2020, Friends merged with the LPL Foundation, which was a similar nonprofit that emerged in 1996 using the same space and relying on the same donors and volunteers.

“I usually joke that we used to live together and now we got married,” Hyde said. “The library uses Friends funds as a checking account…and the Foundation has its endowment funds and grant funds for the future. Now we have a check and savings working together and we are not duplicating our efforts.

Collectively, LPLFF donated $441,000 to the library in 2021. Most of this was for savings, but LPLFF provides $100,000 annually for library programming. Money raised funds the Summer Reading Program, Read Across Lawrence, Dottie Outreach Service and other activities and programs.

“We’re sort of writing the library check,” Hyde said. “We trust our librarians (who) are amazing. And we just kind of say, ‘Here. Use it for all the programs and services you have on the burner. “


More than 200 people volunteer for LPLFF each year. Volunteers invested more than 7,500 hours in the association in 2021.

“What’s so impressive to me is the number of volunteers who have made this all work,” Burchill said.

With the exception of Hyde, everyone who raises money for Friends and Foundation is a volunteer.


“We’re really proud of our organization because there are Friends sales that are just rows and rows of unorganized books, and it’s just kind of overwhelming,” Hyde said. “No one wants that shopping experience. So we categorize our sections into subcategories and sometimes alphabetize them, and we have a great group of volunteers who really take ownership of each section and make it look great.

All members of the community are invited to don 70s clothing and celebrate the thousands of volunteers who have kept LPLFF going over the years.

“What I really hoped for this prom is that anyone who has had a disappointing prom experience for whatever reason can come and enjoy being surrounded by other books and celebrating the library and celebrating friends and the Foundation and celebrate each other by being a little flirty,” said Polli Kenn, Reader Services Coordinator.

The event is free and there will be a cash bar offering book-themed drinks such as Book Worm and Meet Cute.

“We encourage people to come either in 70s outfit or in prom outfit or 70s prom outfit, but honestly, we don’t care at all if people dress up,” Kenn said. “Just come. It’ll be fun.”

In addition to attending Friends and Foundation book sales, people can make appointments to shop for batteries.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 20 spots remained open for registration to attend Friday’s event.

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Lawrence Times contributor Chansi Long (her) has a Bachelor of Science in Mass Media from Baker University and a Masters in Non-Fiction Writing from the University of Iowa. She has been featured in The Washington Post, River Teeth and Brevity. She was honored to be named Kansas Writer of the Year by the Winfield Arts and Humanities Council in 2016 for her essay “Lovesick.”

Read more about his work for The Times here.

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