Alameda’s Libraries Have the Best of ‘Friends’ Behind Them


While the City of Alameda pays for some library events, most find financial support from the Friends of the Alameda Free Library (FAL). Residents who wanted to support the library with a wider variety of materials and programs began the organization in 1974. 

FAL raises money through activities, most notably the twice-yearly used-book sale at Alameda Point and the Live @ the Library concert series each fall. The organization’s volunteers also run Dewey’s Café at the Main Library, where proceeds from food and drink sales go into fundraising coffers.

Money that FAL raises goes directly to the library to pay for programs for both children and adults. The money helps purchase materials for the city’s three libraries and supports those libraries’ activities in other ways. The organization will contribute $60,835 in funding to the Alameda Free Library in 2018.

Programs that FAL supports reflect Alameda’s vibrant and widely used library facilities. Children learn to read, adults and children enjoy film screenings and people learn to use computer programs. In addition, art docents from the Bay Area’s top museums present their latest exhibitions, teens tutor younger children and cultural groups share their traditions with the community. Voters also visit the libraries to learn about local issues and special-interest book groups of all ages gather at the city’s libraries. 

Alameda’s dedicated librarians host regular activities for both children and adults. They are always thinking of new ways to serve their community. Volunteers and money from FAL support the city’s librarians in a number of ways. Programs include Alameda Reads, as well as adult literacy and summer reading capped off by the End of Summer Reading Party at the O Club.

FAL funds also support the “1,000 Books before Kindergarten” initiative, a winter reading program for young people and book groups for people of all ages. Community programs include holiday-related events, Play-Doh play time and themed activity days that include Star Wars Day, Free Comic Book Day and Family Fun Day. The library also offers art programs and FAL steps up to help. These include a film series for adults, First Friday family film nights and craft programs for all ages

FAL funding supports refreshments for the Teen Advisory Board and the Math Club. In addition to program support, FAL raises money for specific needs: $50,000 for collections in 2015, $10,000 for the digital bulletin boards recently installed in all three libraries and $25,000 for technology upgrades in 2016 

As part of the effort to build the Main Library, supporters created the Alameda Free Library Foundation in 1998. The foundation has raised money over the years for the long-term support of Alameda libraries.

In 2016 the Friends and Foundation merged to become a single non-profit organization. The board of directors meets approximately monthly and the public is welcome to attend those meetings (for more information see the board page on the FAL website — To be placed on the FAL mailing list, drop an email to

The Friends ask donors to remember the library when creating a will or trust. Friends of the Alameda Free Library is the organization to name to ensure that the resources go to support Alameda libraries. Donations are always accepted through the website: 

Jan Greene is a member of the Friends of the Alameda Library.