Our History of Advocacy & Support


For over 40 years, the Friends of the Library have fought for sufficient and permanent funding for the Multnomah County Library. In November 2012, Multnomah County voters approved Ballot Measure 26-143, bringing to an end a string of temporary funding levies and creating the new Multnomah County Library District. The Library District took effect on July 1, 2013 and provides dedicated and stable funding for the library far into the future. 

But our job is not over. The Friends of the Library continue to advocate for the role of libraries in our community and support vital programs for all ages. Join us!

Read about our accomplishments at By the Numbers.


Major cuts in county funding for the library led to reduced library hours. Concerned book lovers formed the Friends of Multnomah County Library as a volunteer advocacy group to help the library through this period. While county funds were eventually restored through federal revenue sharing, the library still suffered from staff attrition and the insecurity of non-guaranteed funding.


First Friends book sale held at Central Library


Friends helped launch the first of many campaigns for a library levy


The Friends, with the Library Advisory Board and county commissioners McCoy and Blumenauer, successfully lobbied the state legislature to pass Senate Bill 31, which provided direct per capita support for the libraries through the state’s general fund. This is the most important library legislation approved by the voters since 1901 when the first library law was enacted to authorize the establishment and maintenance of public libraries through the gathering of taxes and to provide for their control and protection. 


The Friends filed non-profit papers and the newsletter became a monthly publication.


The Series “Meet the Author” began and started a literary trend in Portland.


Friends began a Children’s Author Series and the Friends’ bookstore was organized.


The Friends Endowment Fund was established.


Friends book sale yielded over $50,000 for the first time


Friends endorsed the “No Censorship – No on Measure 31” campaign.


Opened Friends Library Store in Central Library + Friends purchased the Solar Wreath light fixture for the newly reopened Central Library’s 2nd floor.


First book sale was located in east county at the Gresham Library


Friends received a $100,000 bequest from the estate of Mary E. Phillips, the Multnomah County librarian when the Friends were formed in 1972.


Friends advocated for another library levy – the 9th.


Friends helped advocate for a library district and achieved stable library funding and opened FOL’s online sales storefronts.