The purpose of the Friends of the Norfolk Public Library is to organize, encourage and strengthen public support for the Norfolk Public Library and to enrich the total resources and facilities of the Library.
In November 1956, FNPL organized as a nonprofit organization to support a new main library. The FNPL declared that Norfolk’s main library on Freemason Street was too cramped and crowded to provide good service to the public. In addition, the entire system’s collection was only 150,000 volumes, when standards indicated that 450,000 were needed.
In 1958, there was a gift from the estate of Munro Black. In April of that year, 200 new members were added to the Friends.
In 1959, the city matched a generous gift of $500,000 from Miss Bessie Kirn and the Kirn Memorial Library, named for her parents, Henry and Elizabeth Kirn, was dedicated on September 1962. The Kirn Memorial Library was temporarily relocated to the Seaboard Building in 2008 to make way for light rail in downtown Norfolk and renamed Norfolk Main Library.
Thanks to generous donations from Mr. and Mrs. Frank Batten, Sr., construction of the state-of-the-art downtown Slover Library replaced the Norfolk Main in 2015. FNPL supports Slover Library and the Norfolk Public Library system which is comprised of Mary D. Pretlow Anchor Branch, Jordan Newby Anchor Branch, the new Richard A. Tucker Memorial Branch, and 8 other branch libraries in addition to a bookmobile.
FNPL undertakes multiple fundraising projects to support children’s programs, library initiatives, and specific needs at branch libraries. Funds are donated to the Norfolk Public Library for various activities, including the Summer Reading Program, teen programs, multi-cultural programs, and branch support. FNPL obtains funds from membership dues, fundraisers, and interest income.