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Friends of Tulsa City-County Library
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Photo of TCCL FriendsDuring a tremendous thunderstorm on May 16, 1957, birth was given to a new organization which is still thriving and evolving to this day. The Friends of the Tulsa City-County Libraries will celebrate its 50th birthday the same year as its state commemorates its centennial. The formation of a Friends group, led by Lillian Born Norberg, for Tulsa’s library came seven years after a survey was made of the Tulsa system by Ralph A. Ulveling of the Detroit Public Library. The Ulveling Report made twelve recommendations for the library system with number twelve stating that “A Friends of the library organization should be developed.”

By July 29, 1957, 86 adults had paid the membership fee of $1 and 7 children were paid members at 25¢ each. A constitution and by-laws were adopted and approved by the Friends of the Tulsa Public Library (their first official name). In the next 5 years membership increased to 515.

The Friends were instrumental in getting the bond issue passed in November, 1961, to create what we know today as the Tulsa City-County Library system. However, this special Friends group stands apart from the majority of Friends organizations because it has stood by its original intent to serve the public through library programming, not just fundraising. We owe our thanks for the popular Books Sandwiched In (1967), Music Sandwiched In (1982) and Travels With Tulsans (1976) series to the Friends. Local writers are encouraged to enter the Adult Creative Writing Contest (1979) for recognition and cash prizes. Awarding scholarship money to staff began in 1966 and today comprises the largest percentage of the Friends budget. Parties and luncheons for staff have been sponsored for the past 40 years besides supporting the openings of each library in the system. The Friends also sponsor the U.S. Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decision series, the recognition party for library volunteers and the study of legislative issues affecting libraries. Volunteer “Ambassadors” present programs at senior living communities. The Tulsa Friends helped form Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma, branch Friends groups and the Tulsa Library Trust.

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