The mission of the nonprofit Friends of the Amarillo Public Library is simple: Support the library system. “They pay for everything we do that’s not covered by taxpayer dollars,” says Stacy Clopton, coordinator of PR and programming for the Amarillo Public Library. “The city covers the building, staff, our collections and office expenses. But it doesn’t pay for milk and cookies at Storytime or the prizes we give out for the Summer Reading Club.”
In addition to Storytime and reading club expenses, the private organization also provides funds for educational library programs like English as a Second Language classes, citizenship classes, the library’s MakerSpace, author visits and more. Clopton points to the major fandom and pop culture festival AmaCon as an example. “There are conventions [like this] all over the country, but they are expensive to attend,” Clopton says of the annual August event at the Amarillo Civic Center. “Ours costs $5 for one day and $8 for two days. People who want to participate in that fandom culture can do that, and cost is not generally a barrier.”
Friends of the Public Library also helped cover expenses for the traveling Americans and the Holocaust exhibition at Amarillo Public Library—one of only 50 libraries in the United States selected for it—and hosts the annual Books to Broadway concert in the fall.
“Occasionally there’s something we’ll need, like rugs for Storytime or curriculum for ESL classes, expenses that are not part of our regular budget,” Clopton explains. The Friends of the Amarillo Public Library meets those needs. In 2023, the organization funded the new mural painted by Blank Spaces on the south exterior of the downtown library building. “They do a lot for us,” Cloption says.
Funds used by the organization come from three massive used book sales every year, along with proceeds from AmaCon and the Books to Broadway series. The organization also operates a small gift shop in the downtown library.
Three library staff members serve on the Friends board in an ex officio capacity. The rest of the organization’s board members serve from the community.
Clopton says the best way to support the organization is by becoming a member for an annual fee of $10 for individuals or $25 for a family membership. “In addition to being a supporter of the library, also means you get to come to the first Friends-only night of the book sale,” says Clopton. Members of the organization are also eligible to become members of City Federal Credit Union.
After February, the organization will accept donated books—“Great books in good condition,” adds Clopton—for consideration in future book sales.
To learn more about the organization, visit amarillolibrary.org.