Posted on January 29th, 2014 No comments
Library Journal has announced the winner of the Best Small Library in America 2014 award — it’s the Pine River Library in Bayfield (CO), which has a service population of 8,749.
Here are some of the services, programs, and collaborations that made PRL a winner. Do any of them look like something your library could try?
- Living in a rural community, many residents have poor Internet service (some still have dial-up), and many have little experience with technology, if any. In 2007, the library launched a technology-lending program so patrons could experiment with the newest devices. In six years, the program has grown from the original two laptops to 50 gadgets on loan and an annual circulation of more than 1,000.
- … the library began partnering with the Bayfield School District to provide outreach events. The district had just implemented monthly late-start days in the schools for staff training time. During the late-start mornings, the library hosts story time activities for students in grades K-5. Our adult librarian and our children’s specialist go out to the middle school and elementary school on those late-start mornings and do story hours while teachers get in-service training. Librarians take over for that hour or more,” says Dodson proudly.
- In March, the library began partnering with the local parks and recreation department to offer yoga classes at the library. A library board member started weekly Pilates classes, and currently there are six exercise classes every week.
- The library partners with the American Red Cross each year to offer a free babysitter training course for local teens.
- Because there are only a few businesses and a small population in Bayfield, there are very few options for entertainment, especially for teens. In early 2012, a group of concerned parents worked with PRL to develop a monthly teen activity called “2nd Saturday” teen nights. Like a big party, the nights feature music, games, and activities geared toward youth in grades six to 12. They are held at the library and supported by library staff and a small budget. Dozens of teens attend. “Teens and tweens are dropped off at PRL around 5:30, and the event goes until nine. After they drop the kids, parents can have a date night of their own,” says Dodson.
- Dodson seized the opportunity to reorganize. “We moved everything around and then went Deweyless, using an arrangement for the collections based mostly on BISAC [Book Industry Standards and Communications]. The Deweyless concept was new to me; I was really skeptical. Now I love it, and our patrons love it,” says Dodson.
Read the whole article to get all the details at Best Small Library in America 2014: Pine River Library, CO.
The annual Best Small Library in America Award, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was created in 2005 to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000. The winning library receives a $20,000 cash prize from the Gates Foundation, conference costs for two library representatives to attend the Public Library Association (PLA) biannual conference in 2014 in Indianapolis, and a gala reception at PLA.
• Best Small Library in America 2014: Pine River Library, CO, Library Journal, 29 Jan 2014
• Pine River Library website
Posted on August 29th, 2013 No comments
If you’re not sure, read what Nancy Dowd wrote in the Library Journal article If You Don’t Have Time for Partnerships, Chances are Your Community Won’t Have Time for You:
Plain and simple, libraries that are valued by their communities involve the people, local groups and government agencies in developing services and programs.
If you don’t have the right programs and services, people won’t care.
If people don’t care, they won’t pay attention.
And if they don’t pay attention, they’ll just keep thinking the library is doing the same things it was doing last time they visited.
And if you think your community is too small or to rural to create these kinds of partnerships, Nancy says,
The size of your library won’t determine the quality of your partnerships.
A library that is committed to listening to its community is taking the first step to building community awareness.
In a related article in LJ, Michelle Lee writes this about Skokie (IL) Public Library: “…some 28 members of its full-time public services staff spend six percent of their time going to community meetings and events, attending board meetings, and serving on community boards and advisory committees to learn about local needs.” Hmmm… consider investing time in becoming an “embedded librarian” in your community, answering questions at the point of need and growing community connections. (Note: there’s a free webinar on September 24th you might want to attend: “Leaving Fort Ref: Frontiers of Embedded Librarianship“.)
Nancy outlined Four Tips to Ensure Your Community is “Library Aware”:
- Ask, even if you think you know the answer:
“When Skokie saw that small businesses needed propping up due to the economic downturn, the library staff reached out to the local Chamber of Commerce. With the Chamber’s guidance, they were able to build a business center that truly met the needs of the small businesses.”
- Empower your community:
“PPL has developed a culture where the community is comfortable proposing, participating, and partnering with the library.”
- get the other 2 tips at the full text of the article
• If You Don’t Have Time for Partnerships, Chances are Your Community Won’t Have Time for You, Library Journal, 5 Aug 2013
• LibraryAware Community Award Winner, 2013: Canton Public Library and Canton Township, MI, Library Journal, 27 Mar 2013
- Ask, even if you think you know the answer:
Posted on February 28th, 2013 No comments
Update: The Hillsdale (NJ) Free Public Library has asked me to edit this post because…
Unfortunately, the official C*nstruction organization wants us to either pay $250 and register officially with them, or we must remove references to “c*nstruction” as that is their registered trademark. [all asterisks added by me]
Note: if you want to replicate their idea of creating a sculpture with food-for-fines donations, do not use the c*nstruction registered trademark, unless you are willing to pay $250 and register officially with them.
Hillsdale Free Public Library has removed their previous web page, and has reposted it as We Need Your Cans, where you can still get information on their “food for fines” project that will turn into a sculpture that will show how successful the campaign will be:
The Hillsdale Library seeks donated unexpired canned goods during the month of March.
Staff and volunteers will create a large sculpture with the cans to be displayed in the Library during National Library Week, April 14-20.
All of the cans will then be donated to the Helping Hand Food Pantry at the Hillsdale United Methodist Church. The Helping Hand Food Pantry serves over 500 people in and around the community every month.
All cans will be accepted, but the desired size is the standard 4 3/8” high variety.
Care to try this in your library too? Not only would your library & patrons be helping your local food pantry, but a photo of the sculpture would be great to share on your library’s website & Facebook page, and could generate a local newspaper article too!
Posted on February 28th, 2013 No comments
Teaming up with your community’s restaurants is a great way to raise money for your library, and a fine way to connect & collaborate with local businesses.
Here are two examples of successful Dine Out for the Library events. Have you done a restaurant collaboration fundraiser also? Please leave a comment if your library has done one too!
Caestecker Public Library (Green Lake):
Time for Dinner and a Movie! Make tonight a date night – take your sweetie to Subway of Green Lake between 4:00 and 9:00 tonight and they will donate a portion of your purchase to the Friends of the Library. And if you’re in the mood for a movie, the library can help you out with that – we’re showing Skyfall at 6:30.
Subway Fundraiser for the Friends of the Library — Our friends at Subway of Green Lake are helping us celebrate National Library Week in a big way! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three – no matter when you stop in to eat at Subway today, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Friends of the Caestecker Library. We are thrilled that another local business is supporting the library in such a visible (and tasty!) manner. See you there!
Oshkosh Public Library:
Dine Out for the Library What’s that? You say it’s too cold to go out for dinner tonight? We have good news – by next Tuesday it will be a balmy 20 degrees. Perfect weather to head over to Benvenutos Italian Grill to Dine Out for the Library! Mention OPL or print the flyer from our web site and 15 percent of your bill goes to the library!
Thanks to everyone who attended and spread the word about our Dine Out for the Library night on Feb. 5 at Benvenuto’s. According to the restaurant’s general manager, our event was one of the most successful they have done, with a total of $1,777 in sales generated by customers dining out for the OPL. We received 15 percent of that total and the restaurant has decided to round up their donation to $300 because of the good turnout. Not a bad return for going out to dinner! [Oshkosh Public Library's staff newsletter This Week, Week of Feb. 11, 2013]
Posted on November 30th, 2012 No comments
At the blog 658.8 – Practical Marketing for Public Libraries, Susan Brown shares ideas you can use to build local partnerships in your community. She says, “In an era of decreased budgets, over-stretched staff, and limited resources, partnerships make more sense than ever.”
If you’re wondering how to get starting developing these relationships, I suggest a cup of coffee. Contact the marketing officer or program director or even the agency head, and offer to buy them a cup of coffee. Let them know that you’d like to partner more and be ready to brainstorm possibilities. A good strategy is to start small – consider what the lowest-hanging fruit is and use that as a first effort. And don’t forget that partnerships are a two-way street: be prepared to discuss both what they can do for you and what value you can offer them in return.
Here are her ideas [bold phrases are my emphasis] for partnerships you can develop:
- Local bookstore – Whether your community is home to an independent bookseller or a national chain, you should think of them as collaborators, not competitors. Advertise their events and ask them to advertise yours. If you have an author coming, bring them in to sell books. If they have an author interested in coming, but not the space to accommodate them, offer up the library auditorium at no charge. This partnership can pay dividends: A library that has a strong relationship with its local bookseller is appealing to publishers and marketing reps when they consider where to send an author on tour.
- Parks & Recreation – Libraries engage the mind. Parks & Rec departments engage the body. What a great match! This is a gold mine for programs – Lawrence Public Library has a very popular annual “Bookworms and Waterbugs” event during summer reading. Kids start out at the library for story time and then cross the street for a free swim. Most Parks & Rec Departments go well beyond sports programs – ask for a table at a community festival they sponsor or offer to bring a mobile display of cookbooks to a holiday cooking class.
- Chamber of Commerce — We know that libraries play an important role in the economic development mix, but does your local Chamber know? Reaching out to your Chamber of Commerce is essential. Ask for a meeting and hand sell them all of the library resources that touch on jobs, small business, and economic development. This list might include conference rooms for client meetings, computer classes, business e-resources, and books about writing business plans.
Other ideas: Ask if you can development a presentation for the Chamber about ways the library can help with economic development. Offer to host a Chamber function at the library. Create an attractive brochure, specifically aimed at the business community, that contains a consolidated list of library business resources and ask of the Chamber will display them at their office.
- Moms/Dads Clubs — Talk about a target audience! These groups are always looking for fun outings and activities and places to hold meetings and social events. Find out the leaders of these groups and reach out to them. The great thing about these organizations is they often maintain a website and/or calendar of local family friendly events – great (and free) advertising for your children’s and family programs.
- Visitor’s Bureau — Along with Visitor Centers, public libraries are one of main gateways to a community – both for visitors and new residents. Make sure the staff at the Visitor’s Center is familiar with what the library offers. If possible, put library brochures and event flyers there – and offer to distribute their marketing materials at the library. One key message for visitors to your town is that the library is a place where they can check their email or hop on free WiFi during their visit.
- Local university — Or college. Or community college. I love working for a public library in a college town, in part because of the wealth of great partnership possibilities. Most institutions of higher education are always looking for ways to strengthen town-gown relationships. Check out this previous post for ten ways to reach out to your local college or university.
Posted on October 31st, 2012 No comments
Driving Kids to Read: Southern Door Bus Drivers on Board With Books — what a great story! Could you work with your local bus drivers to see if you could replicate this in your community?
But if not, maybe you could send your extra children’s books to Ted to add to his bus!
Here are some excerpts from the article:
• When Southern Door Schools bus driver Ted Chaudoir decided to clean out the books in his daughter’s old bedroom, he had no idea what kind of impact it would have. Chaudoir brought the box of his daughter’s children’s books, containing nearly 80 titles, on the bus last spring largely as an attempt at crowd control.
• By May, nearly all of the books were gone. “I came to Missy Bousley [Southern Door's reading specialist], and I said ‘I got this thing on the bus – and it seems to be working – and I need books,’” says Chaudoir.
• “She almost spontaneously combusted in front of me.” “I had no idea it would have the effect it would have at all,” says Bousley. “It’s absolutely incredible to see it.”
• So far, six of Southern Door’s 16 bus drivers are on board with putting books on their buses.
• “When a high schooler will sit with a young one and read to them it really benefits both of them. The older child realizes the fact that they’re really appreciated, and the kids love the fact an older kid will read to them.”
Source: Driving Kids to Read by Matt Ledger, Peninsula Pulse, 12 Oct 2012
Posted on August 31st, 2012 No comments
Lots of libraries do a Food for Fines week, especially during National Library Week. But consider collaborating with a food pantry in your community, to offer a Food For Fines day on a more frequent basis.
Not only does it …
- help people in your community, but it also
- brings you closer in collaboration with other nonprofit groups in the area,
- can inspire other groups to hold food drives, and
- gives your library an opportunity for more media exposure.
Here’s how it works at the Jefferson County (MO) Library:
- At first we ran it for several weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Later, after talking to people at some of the food pantries, we realized that there was a great need for food donation all year round, so we made it a monthly program. This occurred just before the recession hit in 2008. A lot of families in our county have been very hard hit by the recession and still are; this project just struck a chord with the community. Our annual donations have basically doubled since 2008. Since then many other local organizations and businesses have started hosting food donation events. I like to think that we helped show them the way.
- The library now runs the program for a full day on the last Friday of each month. The amount of food they receive each month varies, says Klipsch, “but the statistics we’ve kept since we started show that in the last seven-and-a-half years we’ve collected 46,525 canned food items.”
- Building public awareness about the Food for Fines program has been pretty easy according to Klipsch. “The local media has been very supportive. We send out a press release every month to newspapers, radio and community cable channel, and online news media, and we always include how much was collected the month before, and the total year to date. At the beginning of the new year we send out a press release that includes the totals for the year just completed and the media have done some nice feature stories using that information. We also have a “Food for Fines” page on our web site, and we activate the graphic in the front page slideshow that links to the FFF page about a week before the monthly event.”
Hat tip to Jefferson County (MO) Library uses Food for Fines program to support local community at the I Love Libraries blog
Photo credit: Food for Fines by Lester Public Library (Two Rivers, WI) via Flickr
Posted on February 29th, 2012 No comments
In 2011 Fairfield (CT) Public Library’s Fairfield Woods branch served as a community-supported agriculture (CSA) pick-up location on a a weekly basis.
- The library doesn’t have any involvement with the CSA beyond serving as a location for members to receive their shares. Anyone who wants to sign up contacts the farm directly.
- FPL does offer some complementary programming, however. It launched a seed-lending library this year, and Sport Hill’s owner, Patti Popp, has taught some programs at the library.
- “It’s great to be able to connect people in the community to green initiatives,” Coe said.
Note: CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. “CSA farms provide a weekly delivery of sustainably-grown produce to consumers during the growing season (approximately June to October). Those consumers, in turn, pay a subscription fee. But CSA consumers don’t so much “buy” food from particular farms as become “members” of those farms. CSA operations provide more than just food; they offer ways for eaters to become involved in the ecological and human community that supports the farm.” [source: CSA Farm Directory, Land Stewardship Project] In many CSAs, customers must pick up their shares at the farm or alternate location.
Find a CSA near you using LocalHarvest’s search tool.
Source: Fresh Veggies @ your library, American Libraries Magazine, 9 June 2011
Posted on February 24th, 2012 2 comments
Librarians joke that Reader’s Digest Condensed Books are the zucchini of the library world — like a bagful of squash deposited on your doorstop by a neighbor, these abridged anthologies get donated by the bagful at libraries. Sadly, the fate of most of these books is doomed — most libraries don’t add them to their collections and find them well-nigh unsellable at their book sales.
But now, a genius idea!
The Friends of the Willow Glen Branch of the San Jose (CA) Public Library deconstruct, recycle, and “upcycle” donated copies of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books into chic handbags and e-book reader covers.
Since April 2011 they’ve sold 80 purses for $25 each, and donated the proceeds to the library. They also make padded covers for e-book readers that are priced at $20.
They work from a 28-item checklist for each purse. It covers everything from removing the pages from the book to drilling holes for grommets for the handles to creating a matching decorative price tag. Most tags are made from illustrations cut from the removed pages.
It’s a great fundraising idea, and a nice example of collaboration between a library Friends group and a thrift store — both groups reap the rewards:
The colors of the cover prints are matched with fabric donated by friends, relatives and most recently by the Thrift Box on Lincoln Avenue.
“We’re both nonprofits,” says Linda Petersen. “We give them things we wouldn’t sell, like magazines and VHS tapes.”
In turn, the Thrift Box passes on broken pieces of costume jewelry and beads, which the women turn into clasps and handles.
“It feels great not to throw books away,” volunteer Debbie Erwin says.
• Friends of Library in San Jose’s Willow Glen turn old books into purses, San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 16, 2012
• Read a Good…Purse?
• Willow Glen Branch of the San Jose (Calif.) Public Library
• National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Front Porch Day
Posted on January 30th, 2012 No comments
Read Best Small Library in America 2012: The Independence Public Library, KS to learn how the library’s small staff of 8 strove to save it from closure, by building relationships within the community and with local legislators.
After just two years, IPL … has been reborn. It has won awards, garnered grants and increased tax millage, and built programs and services that are “packing ’em in” to 220 Maple Street from all over Independence. So dramatic was the transformation …
Here are some of the resources & techniques the library used to resurrect itself:
- “Social networking is one of our main sources for effective marketing. We have a number of Facebook pages, including one for our library cat, Trixie!” says Hildebrand. IPL staff keep blogs on various topics and make use of Twitter, Flickr, and Tumblr. In all of 2010, the library’s Facebook page had only 9,556 views, but in the first nine months of 2011, that number had jumped to 106,695.”
- email newsletter [note: if you're at a Winnefox library, contact Joy to start using our Constant Contact service to create your own library's e-newsletter.]
- “Local police suggested that IPL ban homeless folks who gathered in back of the library. Instead, IPL started a program that turned them into regular users.”
- local newspaper covers IPL’s events “with pictures and reports appearing at least once a week.”
And here’s an example of how the library builds partnerships in the community:
When staff attend events or hear a speaker they try to connect. They always ask chamber of commerce members if they can bring something to IPL. For instance, a local candle shop offered a workshop on candle-making at IPL, and an organic farmer led a presentation on gardening. The Kansas Migrant Eduction program offers ESL and now conversational English classes at IPL, and the Southeast Kansas Area Council on Aging uses the IPL computer lab for sessions on how to register for Medicare Part C and D.
That partnering and community engagement is how we are able to provide as many programs as we do with just eight staff members.
About the award: Library Journal’s annual award, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was created in 2005 to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000. The winning library receives a $15,000 cash prize from the Gates Foundation, conference costs for two library representatives to attend the Public Library Association (PLA) meeting, a gala reception at PLA, and more. The two finalist libraries will each receive a $5000 cash award, conference costs for two library representatives to attend the PLA meeting and award celebration, and more. For guidelines for the 2013 nomination see features.libraryjournal.com/awards
source: Best Small Library in America 2012: The Independence Public Library, KS, Library Journal, 1 Feb 2012