The Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library has hired Jennifer Allen as its first executive director.
Allen oversees all Friends activities, including its successful used book shop, and will work to expand community engagement and support for the library’s facilities, programs and collection.
Jeff Budge will continue his decade-long tenure managing book shop operations.
“The Friends saw an opportunity over the past two years to reflect and rebuild,” said Klare Ingram, president of the board of directors. “Hiring a full-time executive director was long overdue and aligns with how much the organization has grown during its nearly 50-year history.”
Allen joined full-time in July, after working with the Friends part-time since the start of the year. She brings two decades of experience from leadership roles in fundraising, marketing, community engagement and education.
The Friends has long benefited from a generous community of members, donors, and book shop patrons as well as a committed corps of nearly 60 volunteers, Ingram said. The realities of COVID, however, forced the group to close its book shop for months and the organization was forced to rethink how it achieves its mission.
In-line with this refreshed, forward-looking mindset, the group also launched a new logo and formalized its relationship with the Saratoga Book Festival.
The festival was established in 2019 by a group of local bibliophiles and first held in fall 2021 with fiscal sponsor oversight from the Friends. Lead festival founder Ellen Beal now serves as Friends vice president.
The festival will be the Friends’ flagship special event. The second annual Saratoga Book Festival will be held throughout Saratoga Springs on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21 and 22.
“The result of our pandemic experience is a stronger, more focused organization,” said Ingram. “Jen is the perfect person to help us reach our potential to support the library and our community.”
For book shop hours, visit friends.sspl.org.