Our Past

Articles of Incorporation

Early in 1958 the new Los Altos Library was in dire need of books to fill its shelves.  Friends of the Library responded by collecting books, but many of the books contributed were not of library quality. So the Friends organized a sale and contributed the proceeds to the library.  We have been selling donated books ever since. 

Our first book sale was held at Rancho Shopping Center, grossing $146.  Through the years we held sales in parking lots, orchards and vacant buildings.  With support from the City of Los Altos we now hold quarterly sales at the Los Altos Community Center (in cooperation with the City of Los Altos).  We also introduced an ongoing sale of books in our libraries and sell books online on Amazon.

Some Highlights

Adding the Aprons: Aprons began in 1986 when the  Friends needed a new way of identifying the volunteers at the Book Sales. (Before that, Sale volunteers wore an armband which was neither practical nor comfortable)  The aprons were decorated with the new Friends logo, had 3 big pockets and were immediately popular. After each sale, someone would take home the aprons and wash them. In 1991 the embroidered name was added for the most active members. The total of 165 SuperFriends over the 32 years (to 2023) includes some families with 3 generations; the youngest so far was 15.   

Meeting the Challenge of the Covid-19 Pandemic:  Pandemic Steering Committee OutsideDuring the Covid-19 pandemic (2020 - 2023) the Library was closed completely or operating under severe restrictions most of the time. The Friends came up with new ways to continue operations : pop-up outdoor Book Sales and and an online BookShelf (now discontinued) . The Book Sales were one-day events which were held in the patio of the History Museum.  The BookShelf was maintained by volunteers who were permitted to come to the library, one at a time, to photograph books which they later listed on our Shopify website. The Library was able to service patrons by delivering holds to the front door; the librarians helped us by also giving out BookShelf orders.  

Moving to new quarters in the Main Library: The Friends Corner in the Main Libraryfor many years the Friends sorting, storing and pricing operations were carried out in room 7 of the Hillview Community Center. When Hillview was closed for reconstruction in 2019 we moved to various temporary facilities, including a portable workspace.  During that time we worked with the City and Library staffs to develop a plan that would give us convenience and stability. As a result, a new area in a remote area of the Main Library was constructed and we moved in in 2022.  We kept the two outdoor storage sheds since the space in the library is not large enough to hold the books we collect for a sale. 

Our Present

We have come a long way since 1958!  Today over 500 households and individuals support the Los Altos Library through membership in the Friends.  Of these, over 200 individuals are active volunteers.   In 2023, our latest update, each week we process over 4,500 donated books in our new space within the Main Library, sorting the books into over 20 categories, pricing each book for the ongoing, internet or quarterly book sales.  In addition, volunteers maintain our Amazon online sales, the sale shelves in our libraries and the Friends' Cafe in the main library lobby. These activities make it possible to recently contribute over $100,000 each year to support the Los Altos Libraries. For more information see our Annual Report.

Our Future

The Friends look forward to continuing to raise funds for our libraries and working with the library staff.  We look forward to helping the City of Los Altos in expanding and modernizing the library building to meet the needs of our library patrons.  To do so depends upon the donations of books, CDs and DVDs as well as the tireless efforts and devotion of our members.

You can join us and help us continue to support our libraries!