In 1970, the Library Board of Trustee members—Francis Crocker, Carl Lykken, Seamus Nunan, Robert Schlesinger and Marjorie Crommelin—discussed the establishing of a Friends of the Palm Springs Library Organization. This was to be a non-profit, fund-raising group of local citizens which would also keep the community informed about the library and its importance to Palm Springs. Pictured below are Mrs. Crommelin (standing), Mr. Nunan, Mr. Bob Schlesinger, Ms. Billie Lu Floan, the Librarian, Mr. Crocker and Mr. Lykken, meeting in the original basement of the Welwood Murray Library.
The first organizational meeting of the Friends convened at the Francis Crocker Branch on May 25,1971. The meeting was chaired by Mrs. Crommelin, and those present included Head Librarian Billie Lu Floan (who joined the Board after her retirement in 1977), Mrs. John Bernet, Jimmy Cooper, Mrs. Herbert Burns, Henry Greeley, Harold Hicks, Mrs. Emil Laufer, Herbert Samson and Mrs. Paul Summers.
In the following months, the board adopted a brochure and mailed letters to prospective members. Dues at that time were $3.00 for regular members and $1.00 for students. Patron membership cost $50.00.
The Friends of the Palm Springs Library organization was incorporated in 1975 and revised the bylaws in June 1989. Committees were organized to work on membership, book sales, publicity and programs. General meetings were held each year and the Board worked hard to attract popular writers to speak. Their first was internationally known cartoonist, Milton Caniff, who spoke to more than 200 guests at the Palm Springs Desert Museum in 1973 on behalf of the Friends. This success inspired the sponsoring of dozens of popular lectures over the next two decades. Other well-known writers to have appeared on their roster of entertainer-supporters included the popular LA Times columnist and author, Jack Smith in 1982, epic adventure writer, Harold Robbins in 1987 and the godfather of science-fiction, Ray Bradbury in 1989.
Thanks to the Friends relying on their successful book sales, membership dues and special programming, it was decided that their group would be able to donate $10,000 per year to the library. As examples, their 1985 donation was used for the new Library Center entrance and the purchase of public access computers, and their 1988 pledge sponsored a new library brochure, computer materials, a classic film series and books and other materials for circulation.
Major gifts to the Library have included included covering expenses remaining from the Library's redesigned East entrance in 1975 which also included the beautiful, curved, black-granite Benefactor’s Wall outside of the Youth Room, which was dedicated to the memory of long-time Friends' volunteer and former Board President Stephen Corey.
In the intervening years, The Friends have quietly worked behind the scenes augmenting the Library's resources and providing a true sense of community enrichment for those within its bounds.