The history of the Friends of libraries began in the 18th century, when book collections often were established and maintained through efforts of citizens groups. A Library Company of Philadelphia was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731, and in Virginia, the Alexandria Library Company formed in 1794. Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist, was one of the first supporters of the concept. Some 2800 public libraries are indebted to him for their beginnings.
In California, residents organized to buy books and support a library in 1896. Ten years later, citizens of Davis founded a club for the same purpose, and an American branch of a French Societe sprouted in Berkeley in 1930.
Here, at College of the Desert, the idea for a Friends Chapter began shortly after the library opened. In the Fall of 1969, with the encouragement of Dr Everett Moore, Librarian, and the assistance of Friends of California Libraries, a small group headed by Theda Simpson Lundquist began meeting with the purpose of supporting the College Library and encouraging the appreciation of the importance of the College Library to the campus and the community. Theda Simpson Lundquist was the founder and first president of the Friends of the College of the Desert Library Chapter.
Since its formation and incorporation in 1970, Friends of the Library activities have included author luncheons, book reviews, charter tours, teas, award of scholarships, a book selection committee and the group's main fund-raiser, the sale of previously enjoyed books. A Cook Book Sale was started November 2000 and evolved into an Annual Fall Sale. A children's gala and book sale, "Kids Go to College" held in October, was started in 1985, and discontinued in 1991. Since 2012 we have had three book sales each year, in the fall, spring and summer.
Support from Friends fund raising activities, memberships and individual donations have enabled the Friends to supply many un-budgeted library needs. In addition to thousands of books, encyclopedias and multi-media, microfilm readers, typewriters, video equipment, study carrels, book trucks, display cases, shelves, Xerox copier, hardware and software for a variety of computer systems and trees and plants that have enhanced the library. In the summers of 1987 and 1988, the Friends provided funds for the reclassification of 6,000 books from the Dewey system to the Library of Congress system and an inventory of a 40,000 volume collection housed in the library at the time.
In 1970, the Friends began a major library project with the purchase of books on deserts. These books are maintained as a special collection named THE DESERT COLLECTION. The 4th edition of the Desert Collection Bibliography was published in 1997. It is a list of all the books on deserts housed in the College of the Desert Library. This bibliography is now maintained on the internet at the library website.
The year of 1994 marked the 25th Anniversary of that small group of people that began the Friends of the College of the Desert Library Inc. It further marked the beginning of the Multi-Agency Library, a new building, planned, financed and constructed by a partnership between the City of Palm Desert, the County of Riverside and the College of the Desert. The new library was completed and occupied in 1996. The Friends' celebrated their 40-year anniversary in the fall of 2009. We look forward to each new year and to new friendships.
The growth of the Friends' membership over the years and the success of the many projects, as well as the many friendships made through the organization, show that the Friends of the COD Library is a visionary and creative organization with a rich history, with an eye on the future. In 2020 we celebrated 50 years as an organization and over $1M in donations to the COD Library.