Ideas to Make Your Library Shine

Sharing ideas from around the system & around the country, on programming, fundraising, grants, free stuff, and more.
Brought to you by the Winnefox Library System.

5 Success Stories You May Have Missed in July

ImageHere are great ideas and good news from around the Winnefox Library System:

⇒ The Ethel Everhard Library of Westfield is taking storytimes on the road with a month-long read-aloud series at Pioneer Park.

⇒ Menasha Public Library is offering online reader's advisory via their "Your Next Great Read" form on their website; "Choose to pick up your list of suggestions or have it sent to you by email -- or have us simply place some books on hold for you!"

⇒ Two libraries collaborated with local humane societies to provide fun programs that benefitted adoptable animals: Oshkosh Public Library teamed up with the Oshkosh Area Humane Society to provide a Kitten Kuddle program that gave 5 kittens socialization time, and the kids and teens painted animal art that will help raise funds for the shelter; and the Pine River Library of Leon and Saxeville Townships hosted puppies Daisy and Luigi from the Humane Society of Waupaca County, and kids who attended the program made toys for the cats and dogs to enjoy.

⇒ The 7th annual Taste of Wautoma and silent auction raised $5,426 for the Wautoma Public Library, whose staff worked with 12 local restaurants to make it happen.

⇒ Oshkosh Public Library has added a charging station for patrons to use with their cell phones and tablets, providing charging cables for Apple and Android devices.

Photo credit: Oshkosh Public Library's photoset on Facebook


September is Library Card Sign-up Month: Are You Ready?

ImageLibrary Card Sign-up Month — September —  is when librarians remind parents and caregivers that a library card is the most important school supply of all. Be part of the national effort to ensure every child signs up for his or her own library card!

Here are tools you can use:

Need help getting started? Some great ideas were generated during ALA's July 21st webinar, "How to Leverage Snoopy to Run a Library Card Sign-Up Campaign for Your Library," with Nancy Dowd and Pam Jaskot.  Check out the notes from the session or watch the archived recording.

Are All Your Library Users Registered to Vote?

ImageVoter registration and voter engagement are important because an engaged and informed electorate is a basic need for the future of libraries.  Now imagine if all your library’s users were registered voters!

Because your library already plays a role in civic engagement and democratic expression, EveryLibrary is encouraging libraries to sign up as a National Voter Registration Day partner organization and invite volunteers to set up a voter registration booth at your library on September 22, 2015.

Why Is This So Important?
Plan and simply, the more registered library users in your community, the better your chances of winning an election come election time. Imagine if every library user in your community was a registered voter that your ballot committee could engage with and ask to vote for the library? It is also so important that library staff, from pages to directors get familiar and comfortable with the political process. A well-trained and comfortable staff is a huge asset during your library’s election. You are still the front line on library advocacy and as such, those staff members are all, in a way, candidates.

Is This Legal?
Yes.  And it’s basic library work.  While it is true that staff can never tell the public that they should vote yes or no on any piece of legislation, especially library ballot measures, they can help members of the public to get registered to vote and give them information about elections.

But We’re Not On the Ballot
Whether or not your library is on the ballot this November, this kind of political advocacy within your community will help you in the years to come. The planning stages before you announce a ballot measure is called surfacing and the more time you take to build your advocates and political supporters before an election, the less work you’ll have to do come election time. So, get started now with National Voter Registration Day!

Just go to the National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) website to become a partner to allow volunteers to come to the library and register voters. Even though the signup form says July 31st, if you sign up before September 4th the NVRD will send you marketing materials, teach your staff how to register voters (if you go that route), and the volunteers will take care of all of the paperwork.

When you sign up your library to be a national partner of National Voter Registration Day, participation includes one or more of these:

  • Allowing volunteers to register voters on your property
  • Organizing a voter registration effort on September 22nd, 2015
  • Promoting voter registration and/or volunteerism through marketing and communication efforts
  • Financially supporting and/or making in-kind donations to National Voter Registration Day

This is a non-partisan effort supported by the League of Women Voters, Nonprofit VOTE, Rock the Vote, Voto Latino, and the Fair Elections Legal Network,

Get Your Library Involved in National Voter Registration Day (Sept 22) by PC Sweeney at EveryLibrary
About National Voter Registration Day

Image source: National Voter Registration Day > General Public Toolkit


4 Grants You Can Apply for in August

ImageHere are four grant opportunities for which you can apply this month:

1. Children’s Book Project Grant for rural libraries

The Pilcrow Foundation, a national non-profit public charity, provides a 2-to-1 match to rural public libraries that receive a grant through its Children’s Book Project Program and contribute $200-$400 through a local sponsors for the purchase of up to $1200 worth (at retail value) of new, quality, hardcover children’s books.

  • What you'll receive if your library is selected: a list of approximately 500 quality hardcover children’s books from which Children’s Book Project Program grant recipients can select books best suited for their community; the book list includes award-winning and star-reviewed titles from educational and literary organizations. The booklist is divided into two groups based on recommended age and grade levels. Books in Group 1 are for emergent and beginning readers (birth to age 7; preschool to grade 2); books in Group 2 are for middle and intermediate readers (ages 8 to 12; grades 3 to 6).
  • Deadline: October 1, 2015
  • Criteria: public libraries that are located in a rural area, have a limited operating budget, have an active children’s department, and raise $200-$400 through a local sponsor. Libraries with total operating budgets of less than $50,000 will receive funding priority; however, town libraries with total operating budgets over $150,000 and county libraries with total operating budgets over $450,000 may also apply for grants.
  • Application form: go to the Pilcrow Foundation page to use either a fillable Adobe Acrobat PDF form or a MS Word form

Applications of qualifying libraries that do not receive a grant during this grant cycle due to limited funds will be reconsidered for a grant in the next grant cycle.

The Pilcrow Foundation is a non-profit organization that donates new, quality, hardcover children’s books to rural public libraries to promote the joy of reading.

2. Great Stories Club grant

The Great Stories Club gives at-risk, troubled youth the opportunity to read, reflect, and share ideas on topics that resonate with them.

Working with small groups of six to 10 teens, grantees will host reading and discussion events for each of three selected book titles. The titles - selected in consultation with librarian advisors and humanities scholars - are chosen to resonate with reluctant readers struggling with complex issues like incarceration, violence and poverty.

  • What you'll receive if your library is selected to participate:
    • 11 paperback copies of each of three book titles (10 to gift to participants; 1 for discussion leader/library collection); the titles are Feed by M.T. Anderson, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and March: Books One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
    • Travel and accommodation expenses paid for attendance at the project orientation workshop on November 16, 2015, in Chicago
    • Training through periodic project webinars, a program planning guide, and other online support materials
    • Online access to professionally designed, customizable and downloadable resources for use with program participants
    • Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the grant term
  • Deadline: September 15, 2015
  • Criteria: all types of U.S. libraries located within or working in partnership with an organization that serves at-risk youth (such as alternative high schools, juvenile justice organizations, homeless shelters, foster care agencies, teen parenting programs, residential treatment facilities and other nonprofit and community agencies) are eligible to apply. Programs must take place between January 1 and May 30, 2016.
  • Guidelines and resources for program planning
  • Application form: go to the Great Stories Club page to create your profile; all you need to get started is an email address

Up to 50 grants will be awarded. The grant will be administered by ALA's Public Programs Office in partnership with the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), including the Library Services for Youth in Custody and Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest groups. The Great Stories Club has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Two additional rounds of Great Stories Club grants are expected to be awarded in 2016 and 2017 with the themes of "The Art of Change: Creation, Growth and Transformation" and "Nature vs. Nurture: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide." Libraries may participate in more than one round but must apply separately for each.

First offered as a pilot in 2006, ALA's Great Stories Club has reached 670 libraries in 49 states and more than 30,000 young adults (ages 12 to 21).

3. STAR_Net Explore Traveling Exhibitions

... host one of three science- and technology-focused traveling exhibitions.

The exhibitions — which are ideal for small libraries, requiring only 200 square feet of display space — are designed to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning opportunities for all ages.

Star_net logoApplicants may apply for one of the following exhibitions:

  1. Explore Earth: Our Changing Planet will focus on local earth science topics — such as weather, the water cycle and ecosystem changes — as well as a global view of our changing planet. The primary message of the exhibition is that the global environment changes — and is changed by — the local environment of all host communities.
  2. Explore Space: Our Solar System and Beyond helps visitors answer the age-old questions: Where did we come from, and are we alone? The exhibition will teach audiences about our universe, including how stars and planetary systems form and the role that gravity plays in our universe.
  3. Explore Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference shows how engineering provides solutions to better meet human needs and develops sustainable innovations for the future. It features hands-on and multimedia components that allow exhibit visitors to interact with content in a dynamic way, encouraging new perspectives about engineers and their vital work.  

What you'll receive if your library is selected to participate:

  • one exhibition for an eight-week display period; shipping is free for grantees
  • a cash grant of $1,000 to cover the cost of public programming related to the exhibition
  • a publicity kit and media resources for a STEM @ My Library public engagement campaign
  • an orientation webinar that will include information about content and science themes, a presentation and demonstration of hands-on science activities by the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and presentations and interactive discussions about programming resources
  • periodic webinars on timely STEM topics to support programming in libraries
  • an Explore teacher guide, family guide and hands-on activities for different age groups to help libraries develop programs and support classroom visits
  • access to the STAR_Net Online Community and a national network of STEM-oriented organizations.

Grantees will be required to plan public programs related to the exhibition and to participate in the STAR_Net Online Community throughout the exhibition period. Each exhibition will travel to 13 or 14 public libraries from 2016 to 2018.

The Explore exhibitions are made possible through the support of the National Science Foundation. The exhibition and its educational support materials and outreach opportunities are part of the STAR (Science-Technology Activities and Resources) Library Education Network (STAR_Net), a hands-on learning program for libraries and their communities developed by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. For more information, visit

4. Best Small Library in America

... nominations [will be judged] based on key factors, including:

  • Creativity in developing services and programs that can be replicated by other libraries, including outreach to special populations
  • Innovation in introducing and supporting public access to computers and the Internet
  • Success in educating patrons in computer use, and measuring the results of technology usage
  • Use of technology to expand the reach of library services
  • Demonstrated community support
  • Sustained cooperation with other libraries
  • Partnerships with other agencies and businesses
  • Increase in library use, particularly by new users
  • Evidence of library’s role as community center

Keeping the factors above in mind, please tell us how, in the last two years, you have raised the profile of the library in your community, reached out to new users and remote users, and used technology to support and grow patron access to materials and information.

Award: $20,000 cash, and  membership & conference costs for two library representatives to attend the 2016 PLA conference in Denver. Two finalist libraries will be awarded $10,000 cash, and membership & conference costs for two library representatives to attend the 2016 PLA conference.
Deadline: September 9, 2015
Criteria: A single library serving a community with a population of 25,000 or less (latest Census) is eligible to apply
Guidelines and details:
Send your application:
  • via email to Meredith Schwartz at (link sends e-mail) if it's in electronic format (Word or PDF)
  • via USPS mail to: Best Small Library in America Award / Library Journal / 123 William St. Suite 802 / New York, NY 10038

Use your nomination application to tell LJ how you've raised the profile of the library in your community, reached out to new users and remote users, and used technology to support and grow patron access to materials and information over the last two years,


Free Webinars in August

ImagePlan to attend these free webinars; all you need is your computer & speakers or headphones (no microphone needed.) If you attend a live webinar, it may be counted as a Category B continuing education activity towards renewing librarian certification.

Webinars with a ★ are the ones I think you'll find most useful.


7 Success Stories You May Have Missed in June

ImageHere are great ideas and good news from around the Winnefox Library System:

⇒ The Caestecker Public Library in Green Lake began a series of weekly Thursday Morning Conversations; it's "an opportunity to meet and chat with local elected officials and business people, artists and non-profit organization leaders, musicians and teachers. All folks that we find interesting and we're betting you will, too." "Stop in every week from 10:00 to 11:00. We'll meet near the fireplace, and chat over coffee. Green Lake Mayor Jon McConnell inaugurates the program on the 4th."

⇒ Endeavor Public Library started "The Write Stuff League", a six-week writing program for kids that meets on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.

⇒ Ripon Public Library's Summer Library Program lets participants become a "super hero to local organizations. Every 60 minutes of reading earns you a vote to support one of three local charitable groups: Ripon Splash Pad, Community Food Pantry, or Green Lake Area Animal Shelter. The Friends of the Ripon Public Library are giving away $500 to local charities this summer. The local organization with the most reader votes at the end of the summer will receive $250, second place $150, and third place $100." Each reading ticket (1 hour read = 1 ticket) serves as a vote for the reader's favorite cause.

⇒ Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose been selected as a Maker Camp Affiliate  "We'll be getting some really cool STEAM stuff to play with, and I'll have a day for Makers to come in and make stuff very soon! Things we are receiving are: a Makey-Makey; Learn to Solder Robot Pins; BrushBot kits; T-Shirt Stencil; Strawbee; and other fun stuff!"

⇒ Campbellsport Public Library received a $200 grant from ShopKo to help fund the library's SLP activities.

⇒ Winneconne Public Library is sponsoring a Teddy Bear Drive to benefit The Children's Hospital at Theda Clark in Neenah. "The teddy bears will be given to comfort children receiving emergency care & children being admitted" to the hospital.

⇒ A joint effort by the Fond du Lac Public Library, the City of Fond du Lac Parks Dept. and Kiwanis Club of Fabulous Fond du Lac has resulted in Fond du Lac’s first permanent StoryWalk® installation in Lakeside Park. "StoryWalks encourage families to enjoy reading and the outdoors by posting a children’s book – a page at a time – at intervals in a park, hiking trail or other outdoor site." "The stories – A Frog in a Bog, by Karma Wilson, and It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles Shaw – will be replaced with new stories in a few months. The stories will be changed on a regular basis, year-round."


Book Covers Upcycled Into Gift Bags

ImageYou or your volunteers / Friends group can make gift bags out of book covers, and sell them to raise funds for your library.

Alternately, you can set up a passive programming space by providing book covers and craft materials — like glue sticks, ribbon, yarn, and empty breakfast cereal boxes — and see what creative things your patrons can make with them.

Here's what Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library posted on Facebook:

We put out book covers at the Little Chute Library for patrons to take and do something creative with. Look what the talented Kathryn Murphy did with hers! What a great way to reuse, recycle, and make a unique gift.

Not sure how to make a gift bag?  Look at the Make Gift Bags from Cereal Boxes instructions from Instructibles, or watch this video tutorial by Jennifer from Sea Lemon:


Photo credit: Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library's Facebook photos

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