Many public and academic libraries (and I think even some school libraries) have something called Friends groups. Friends groups, as you can surmise from their name, are non-profit groups that are formed to offer support for the library in question. Different Friends groups do different things, but typically help with things like fundraising, volunteering, and advocacy efforts.
This all sounds good, doesn’t it? And it certainly is, and can be, when all works well. But, I’m guessing you can imagine, that sometimes things don’t go well—or at least not as well as hoped or expected. Also, things can go well for years and then not so well for a while. Sometimes there isn’t good leadership of the group, resulting in the director and staff having to be more involved in the group than they should. On the other hand, sometimes the Friends may think they have more power and rights than they do, and forget to keep the library director and staff in the loop. And these are just a few of the things that can go wrong.
But don’t get me wrong, Friends can be great assets when done right. So you might be interested in Starting a Friends Group from the Illinois Library Association. I think it’s pretty well done and helpful.
Feel free to let me know about your Friends experiences in the comments.