Friends of Salem Library

Friends of the Library: Salem Virginia Seal with Eagle and Library Silhouette (PDF)

Who We Are

We're anything but Fossils. Yet that's an acronym we sometimes whimsically use to refer to the Friends of the Salem Library (FOSL) an organization you'll learn to love. Far from belonging to the past, we have our sights set on helping the Salem Public Library reach its full potential as a learning center full of vitality, vim, and vigor.

The focus is on books and reading. But there's more: Community-building events, Storytelling programs, circulating materials for library patrons (including DVDs, newspapers, magazines, business directories, investment guides, and research sources for school projects and genealogy), and many more resources that would go unfunded without the direct sponsorship of the FOSLs. The list goes on and on:

  • Furniture for the public, including the children's area and display fixtures
  • AWE Early Literacy computer stations for children
  • Storytime supplies (a storytime stool, a large colorful new rug, etc)
  • Sponsorship of library programs (teen soldering program, adult art programs)
  • Sponsorship of the annual Salem Elementary School Art Show
  • New library technology (new projector and screen for meeting room)
  • Annual sponsorship of the Salem Public Library Summer Reading Program for all ages, including prizes, performers, and craft supplies
  • And more.

Where We've Been

Support groups for public libraries are nothing new or rare, but there must be a spark. Salem Friends trace their roots to a casual conversation in September 1988, between Joyce M. Foster and Earnestine Woodliff Lewis, former children's librarian of the Salem Public Library. Acting on their ideas, Mrs. Foster became the Friends organizer, mentor, and first president. (1988-90).

Over the years, the Salem Friends have enrolled numerous families as members and boosters. More formally, Friends of the Salem Library is chartered as a non-stock corporation under Virginia law and holds tax-exempt status for Federal tax purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Simply put, that means gifts to the Friends are tax deductible. Click here to make an online donation. 

Early on, Salem Friends were active in the campaign that resulted in the 1990-91 expansion and renovation of the library on Salem's Library Square.

FOSL Presidents have included Peggy "Jackie" Cook (d.1991); Paul H. Simpkins; Grace J. Thomas; Alice P. Paine and Dee Rose

Where We're Going

Our goal is to intensify public attention on the library, its resources, and services; to become personally involved in rallying citizens, and support to assure adequate library funding at the municipal and state levels; and to encourage gifts and bequests to the library.

How We Got There

Increasing membership is the one sure way to expand our support base. Membership is open to any citizen, at any of several membership levels. Please pick up a membership application form at the library or, better yet, attend one of our meetings.

What We're Doing

Book Sale 

Our most visible project is the book sale in September. Friends and library patrons donate hundreds of books, bringing them to the library in the summer months prior to the sale. Members sort, price, display, and sell them to the public during Olde Salem Days, usually the second Saturday of September. Proceeds benefit library activities and needs. Visit the Book Sale website.

Tax Assistance

Although the program ended in 2005, volunteers offered help in preparing tax returns at the library since 1985. Through FOSL efforts, computers, printers, and software were made available to the volunteers. During tax season, FOSL members served as receptionists, and the library provided tax forms, instructions, and reference materials. Some taxpayers receiving assistance made voluntary contributions to the Salem Friends.

Direct Funding

The Salem Friends have funded many programs and equipment purchases for the library: Summer Reading, Morning Coffee for Patrons, a permanent Christmas tree, a Heritage Quilt, display case, bulletin board, filmstrip projector, television sets, plaques, video tape cleaners, Ellison die cutter, computer work stations, film series for high school English classes, new projector, library furnishings, new AWE early literacy computer stations, and sponsorship of many programs and events for all ages throughout the year.


Memorial contributions in any amount are welcomed and acknowledged. If preferred, a contribution may be directed to the Memorial Book Fund, which is used to pay for special books on the library's acquire list; a memorial bookplate is affixed to the book.

How You Can Help

Join the Friends of the Salem Library. Then send a donation to the Friends or, if you wish, include a donation with your dues check. The FOSL Membership Form is also available online. You must have Adobe Acrobat to use this form; it can be downloaded free from Seek the advice of your attorney to make a bequest by your will. Check with your financial advisor about gifts of securities or property to the Friends.

All of these opportunities for support benefit the Salem Public Library and have potential tax-saving advantages. A copy of our IRS determination letter and further information are available on request. For further information, contact the FOSL Treasurer:

Mail to:
FOSL Treasurer
Salem Public Library
28 E Main Street
Salem, VA 24153-3897

Related Documents