About Us

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Who the Friends are 

The Friends of the Rochester Public Library organization raises funds to expand the library’s collections and programs, support special projects, and promote awareness through community involvement. September 26, 1949 the first meeting of the Friends of the Library was called to order.

Funds come mainly from membership contributions, special events, and the sale of donated books at the Book Store, the sale of books online, and through four large auditorium Book Sales held throughout the year.

Friends' Board Officers 2017

 Friends board 2017

Front row from L to R:
Kim Keilholtz, Bessie Copple, Ann Griese, Karen Nath, Ann Jones, Joyce Wentz, Diane Edwards, Pat Stephenson, Unni Gopinathan

Back row from L to R
Pat Mann, Gen Theobald, Phillip Nordquist, John Hunziker, Madison Wurth

Missing from photo:
Louis Wagner, Phyllis Hambright, Lathika Nair

The Friends of the Rochester Public Library is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening existing library resources, promoting awareness and use of library services, building community and financial support and encouraging volunteer involvement.

Organizational Structure

The Board consists of 10 - 20 members who are elected by the Friends' membership for a three year term, for a limit of three terms. Members must then be off the board for at least one year before re-election.  Elections take place at the Annual Meeting held in January.
Five of these members hold officer positions for a two-year term.  They include the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Book Store Manager.

Board Meetings

Meetings are held monthly on the second Monday in the month.

Board Members responsibilities

Members of the Board are encouraged to take a leading role and to participate in Friends' fund-raising functions, library events and other community directed occasions.

Members are appointed to committees which carry out the various areas of the Friends' activities. Standing committees include the Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Nominating Committee, Membership Committee and Book Store Committee. 

Co-Presidents Karen Nath/Kim Keilholtz
Vice-President TBD
Secretary Diane Edwards
Treasurer Phillip Nordquist
Bookstore Managers  Bessie Copple, Pat Stephenson
Board Members
Ann Farnell Unni Gopinathan
Ann Griese Phyllis Hambright
John Hunziker Ann Jones
Pat Mann Lathika Nair
Gen Theobald Lou Wagner
Joyce Wenz Madison Wurth

Library Staff
Marketing Manager Karen Lemke
Volunteer Coordinator Marilyn Campbell
Graphic Support Nicole Henry


Mission Statement of the Friends of the Rochester Public Library 

The Friends of the Rochester Public Library is a non-profit organization of community people dedicated to strengthening the public library, promoting awareness and use of library services, building community and financial support, and encouraging volunteer involvement.

Bookstore History

The Friends of the Rochester Public Library Bookstore was formed in 1995 and is dedicated to strengthening the existing resources of the Library while promoting awareness and use of the Library services. We are a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers, working with donated materials.


Friends' Community Outreach

The Friends of the Rochester Public Library support various community and outreach projects.

Read with Me

The Read with Me program is an updated version of the Book Bags for Babies program which started over 20 years ago. 

The mother of each baby born in Rochester at Methodist and Olmsted Hospitals is presented with a Baby Reader and information about the Rochester Public Library. In addition, the Friends are working with the United Way of Olmsted County and Imagination Library to give one book per month to each child in Olmsted County until their fifth birthday. There are approximately 3200 babies born each year in Olmsted County.

Food Shelves and Book Shelves

Channel One

Do you know the difference between kids who like to read and kids who don’t? BOOKS! Two ongoing local projects that help to provide needy children and adults with free books are Channel One and Community Food Response.

Channel One is a local food shelf and regional food bank that serves Southeast Minnesota and Western Wisconsin to help feed people in need. Channel One gave us floor space for book shelves, which Pat Stephenson fills with 100-175 books each week.

Channel One serves an average of 3400 households each month; 40% of those individuals are children.


Community Food Response

Community Food Response is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1993 to meet the growing need of families to have a supplemental source of food. This program focuses on “rescuing” food from 19 different hospitals, hotels, restaurants, schools, and grocery stores that would normally be discarded at the end of the day and getting the food into the hands of individuals and families who need it. Community Food Response is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Over 800 adults and children go to the basement of Bethel Church each week to pick up food. Books are delivered every other week or when Pat gets a phone call saying books are running low.

Operation Paperback

The Friends have participated in “Operation Paperback,” a program that sends donated books to our troops deployed overseas. We expanded our efforts by joining the non-profit program called Operation Paperback and have sent over 5,000 books to soldiers in overseas countries. Most soldiers ask for general fiction, science fiction, classics, westerns, thrillers, and military history. Many soldiers have written back to let us know they have received the books and how much they mean to them and their units. It is gratifying to know we are able to support these soldiers so far from home.

Recycle Print Cartridges

It benefits both the environment, and the Rochester Public Library. That is the purpose of an Eagle Scout Leadership Service Recycling Project designed by Bruce Gregoire, a member of Boy Scout Troop 29, sponsored by Rochester Central Lutheran School. He met with several businesses who’ve agreed to donate used printer cartridges to the Library. Book marks describing the program are available at the Library. The public is invited to put used ink jet, laser printer cartridges or old cell phones in labeled bins in library entrance or outside near the bookmobile garage door after hours. A volunteer will send the cartridges away to be recycled. 

This program has continued, thanks to Marj Steinbauer and Joyce Wenz.

Please encourage your friends to bring their used cartridges to the library.

2015 Friends' Activities

  • Funding the Visiting Author Series

  • Funding and Volunteering for the Children's Summer Reading Program

  • Purchasing Materials for the Library's Collection

  • Funding Various Databases

  • Providing Volunteers

  • Supporting the Wit, Wisdom, and Wine fundraiser

  • Supporting Literacy Activities in Aea Schools


The Library is very grateful for all the Friends' help and support!