What You Can Learn from the Best Small Library in America 2012

ImageRead 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