We support lectures, special events and programs at all 9 Richmond Library locations. We volunteer our time to assist in running these programs and events, and also collect the books, run the sale, and help readers find treasures at our bi-annual Book Sale. Many branches have an “Advisory Council,” and we assist those groups as well. If your branch does not have an Advisory Council, you can contact the branch directly to form or participate in one.
So what sorts of things do we offer?
The Richmond Writer Series: Authors based in or from the Richmond area visit a library to talk about and read from their works, answer questions, and sign copies of their books.
Host the Poetry Slam: Richmond-based poets gather to share their latest prose.
Exhibitions: We assist in procuring, staging and promoting exhibits of historical and cultural significance at the Library.
Education: Our volunteers aid in the growth of Library patrons by tutoring in computer skills, research projects and reading groups.
Building a Library: Our fundraising efforts have led to the creation of such spaces as the Martha Orr Davenport Special Collections Rooms, and also raise funds for the improvement of the Library facilities, increasing its value to the community.
When founded in 1959, the Friends of the Richmond Public Library stated three goals:
- To organize and maintain an association of people interested in the progress and welfare of the Richmond Public Library;
- To promote the improvement of the facilities and services of the Library so as to increase its value to the community; and
- To carry on interpretive, literary, or educational activities related to the functions of the public library, so as to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation thereof.
We continue to maintain a commitment to those goals. We engage the patrons of the Richmond Public Library through programs such as the Richmond Writers Series, which provides local authors a venue to meet the community and share their work; our annual Poetry Slam, which gives local poets a chance for their voices to be heard; and our semi-annual Book Sale, which raises much-needed funds for the continued health of the Library. Friends of the Richmond Public Library support activities and events at all nine Richmond Public Library locations.
The first Richmond area library had a modest beginning with the donation of eight volumes of religious texts to a new college in the outpost of Henricopolis. The year was 1621.
While institutions of learning were common during the early days of Richmond, it was not until 1812 that the local government rented two rooms on Marshall Street to found the Christian Library; our first Public Library. The next century brought public funds and private initiative together to create a number of accessible libraries around the city. They organized in 1905 as The Richmond Public Library Association, and by 1924 had opened the first official public library in the Ginter House on West Franklin Street. Its collection housed 15,000 books, and Richmond had its first librarian, Washingtonian Thomas P. Ayer.
Realizing the value of public access to books and knowledge, a group of concerned Richmonders formed The Friends of the Library in 1959. Under the leadership of Arthur W. Harrison, they began a mission of outreach and activities that grew the Richmond Library into the vibrant entity and community resource that it is today.
The entire timeline of Richmond Public Library can be viewed at RichmondPublicLibrary.org.
Charlie Schmidt, President
Ruth DeBoer, Vice President
Chris Larson, Vice President
Mary Cosby, Treasurer
Bryan Townes, Secretary
Mary Ashburn Pearson
Barbara Burton, Library Board Liaison