Who We Are & What We Do
The Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library (FFRPL) is the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that raises funds, presents programs, supports special projects, and purchases supplemental materials and equipment for the Rochester Public Library – the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. In May 2013, we finalized the merger of the Friends of the Rochester Public Library (formed 1953) and the Rundel Library Foundation, Inc. (formed 1989).
The residents of Greater Rochester are incredibly fortunate to have an outstanding public library system serving more than 480,000 cardholders through its 32 branch and town libraries across Monroe County. In 2017, nearly 7.5-million items circulated throughout the system, with about 4.5-million visits counted, of which 1.5-million were just in the downtown Central Library and 10 City branches. Since 1911, the Library’s rich history of service grounds its evolution as a community and cultural center, and the FFRPL’s success and impact lies in helping the Library fulfill its mission, and in providing books & materials, innovative programming and annual/capital/special project funding (beyond what is possible in the municipal budget) to enrich the life of the community.
Here are a few highlights from a wide variety of essential and impactful work in which the Friends & Foundation of RPL is currently engaged on behalf of the Library:
- FFRPL, in FY2017-18, contributed $665,000 to support the Central and branch libraries! More than $530,000 was given for various Library programs and projects, $25,000 transferred for the Library’s Capital Campaign and an additional $110,000 drawn from an Annual Campaign and bookstore sales, providing books, materials, digital content and programming that would otherwise not be possible.
- FFRPL continues the tradition of providing outstanding Library programming: the flagship Books Sandwiched In (running since 1956) and Tuesday Topics series and the Sokol High School Literary Awards have been beloved by the Rochester community for decades. Additional programs offering education, entertainment and enlightenment to the community include dozens of Conversations On Race, River to Roof Tours and Ghost Tours in the historic Rundel Building; special Fringe Festival programming in Central Library; community-wide collaborative events like 2017’s Because of Women Like Her … NYS Suffrage Centennial Celebration and 2013’s Pride & Passion: the African American Baseball Experience; as well as international programs such as the annual Art of the Book exhibition and competition and Al-Mutanabbi Street: the Conversation Starts Here. In 2017, more than 9,000 Library and FFRPL programs attracted more than 208,000 adults, teens and children at just the Central and branch libraries.
- FFRPL is in the final phase of a five-year $3.4M Capital Campaign, From Collections To Community, to rejuvenate and transform Central Library into the Library for the 21st century.
- FFRPL has provided more than $100,000 annually since 2001 for the very successful afterschool program Safe to be Smart. The Central Library downtown and five branch libraries serve on average 225 youth every day (about 56,000 visits annually), providing teens with a safe environment and helping them learn and improve their work and life skills. In 2013, FFRPL secured a $100,000 IMLS/MacArthur Foundation grant to create the imagineYOU Digital Media Learning Lab at Central Library, which helps teens learn digital video/audio production skills from mentors and peers to tell their own stories; this past year we helped bring Teen & Children’s Services together on one floor for expanded and enhanced learning, playing, reading, teaching and programming opportunities.
- FFRPL supports Summer Reading, supplying books and prizes for Central and branch libraries.
- FFRPL continually helps the Library upgrade its technology by providing computers, software, iPads, large monitors and other electronic necessities to enhance patrons’ experiences, most recently to support building the $400,000 Reynolds Media Center on the 1st floor of the B&L Library Building.
- FFRPL regularly secures annual grants for the Business Division and the Chester F. Carlson Patent & Trademark Center that help provide business resources and essential databases (including IBISWorld and Frost & Sullivan 360), which are especially important to local small business owners revitalizing downtown.
- FFRPL has for decades taken in tens of thousands of book donations annually and runs a successful bookstore business, selling quality used books onsite and online, on behalf of the Library and two dozen academic and cultural partners. We currently transfer $40,000/year from booksales to the Central Library.
- FFRPL acts frequently as the collaborative connector between the Library and our many arts and cultural partners, friends and allies, bringing together disparate groups to work on new, interesting and mutually beneficial projects and events.
- FFRPL manages and grows the Harold Hacker Fund for the Advancement of Libraries, which annually provides more than $12,000 to fund professional development for librarians as well as innovative library projects and programs benefitting libraries throughout Monroe County.
- FFRPL stewards and builds a $10.5-million endowment, which is permanently invested to provide continuing support of the Library.
In summary, the value of an educated, informed society is immeasurable. But we are confident that every one of the hundreds of thousands of patrons who come through the Central Library doors every year benefits – in ways small and large – from the programs, services, space, materials and/or equipment supported by the Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library. It is our honor and privilege every day to support the marvelous activities of our beloved community jewel of an institution: the Rochester Public Library / Central Library of Rochester & Monroe Co.
All of the above is only possible through the generosity of Library lovers and donors. Please consider making a gift to support the Library. Thank you!