The Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries was established in 1980, when then Director of the Libraries Berry G. Richards convened a steering committee. Her thought was that "with a new building and automation program, the library could use a base of support." In the early years, Ms. Richards directed the group's energies "to provide some cultural activities" and to "convene people who had interests in libraries." She appointed members of the University community to serve on the steering committee that drafted by-laws. Some of these Friends continue to contribute to the Board today.
The Friends has sponsored several activities annually for over forty years. Early events included an annual dinner and a book review program, as well as a regular concert/lecture series. There were also bus trips, a newsletter, and dramatic readings among other activities. With the campus community, the Friends co-hosted concerts, special exhibits of rare books and Lehigh history, and other events and festivities. Nowadays, the Friends of the Lehigh University Libraries continue to enhance the campus social and literary scene, presenting an annual Faculty Authors Reception - “Harvest of Ideas”, lectures by renowned writers and scholars, and new faculty speakers. In addition, the Friends often collaborate with other campus groups in the furtherance of support for the libraries with the offering of literary, musical and theatrical events.
The Friends foster acquaintance with library staff and their initiatives, and support for the maintenance and growth of library facilities and collections at Lehigh. During its over 40 years history the Friends has made it possible to add to the libraries’ collections, contributing to several important online databases as well as books requested by various university departments to further the learning and work of students and faculty. Gifts from the Friends are also used to support library renovation and address furniture and equipment needs as well as to fund faculty fellows and the annual Libraries Student Research Prize.
The Friends of the Lehigh Libraries continue to partner with staff in the Lehigh Development Office to assist in meeting the university's overall fundraising goals as they relate to Libraries and Technology Services and to continue and bolster Lehigh Libraries’ ability to meet the needs of students and faculty in a changing world.
2020 Friends of the Lehigh Library Board Members:
- Ms. Melody Weisman, President
- Mr. Gerald Camera
- Mr. Mark Connar
- Mr. Oldrich Foucek III
- Mr. Bill George
- Prof. Scott Gordon
- Prof. Justin Jaworski
- Prof. Judith McDonald
- Ms. Judith Parr
- Ms. Maria Rodale
- Ms. Christine Roysdon
- Ms. Karen Samuels
- Dr. Lloyd Steffen
- Prof. Stephanie Powell Watts
- Ms. Debbie Wesselmann-Lopresti
- Boaz Nadav-Manes, University Librarian, Lehigh University Library
- Lois Black, Curator of Special Collections, Lehigh University Library
- Jasmine Woodson, Assistant Director of Instruction and Outreach, Lehigh University Library