Get Inspired by the Best Small Library in America 2013

ImageThis year's winner of the Best Small Library in America award is the Southern Area Public Library, located in Lost Creek, West Virginia.  You can read the Library Journal article, and here are some of the high points (emphasis added) you'll be most interested in:

  • Of the 175 public libraries in West Virginia, the Southern Area Public Library (SAPL) in tiny Lost Creek is the smallest, with a service population of 498.
  • In activity, energy, growth, and community engagement, however, it ranks with the state’s best and brightest.
  • ... SAPL has been transformed from a good, traditional public library into a modern, bustling center of community activity, information, and learning.
  • All of this on a 2013 budget of just under $35,000 and the labor of a staff of two, a band of 20 volunteers, and a small Board of Trustees.
  • ... patron visits to SAPL have increased from 3,094 to 7,945. Programs have grown from 28 to 227 last year.
  • One of Stenger’s simplest fundraising tactics was to put a jar on the circulation desk with a sign suggesting that users contribute. Many patrons were surprised by the SAPL policy not to charge overdue fines.“Many just say, ‘OK, I’ll just put some money in this jar.’ We are sure we get more in donations than we would from fines, and we get the added good feeling from patrons because we didn’t fine them,” says Stenger.
  • Stenger develops a list of adult nonfiction titles the library needs for the “Adopt a Book” program, and they are listed on ornaments on the library holiday tree. Patrons will then pay the library the amount listed on the ornament for that title. SAPL puts the donor’s name on a bookplate in each adopted title.
  • ... gave each member of the board a copy of Andy Robinson’s How To Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone: A 1-hour Guide for Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff. They have already decided to use the idea of a 10-10 fundraiser from the book to try to raise the $2,000 to keep SAPL open on Mondays.
  • “I believe the best way to direct a library is to passionately pursue new ideas, new programs, and new partnerships,” Stenger says...
  • “We are a small town with a hot dog place and inside a gas station a sandwich and pizza place. There are no small businesses in the town proper except for the pharmacy, two beauty shops, the bank, a day care, a therapist, and the feed store. Yet our library has pulled together members and organizations throughout our town as well as surrounding towns to build lots of programs, buy books and other materials, and collaborate on all kinds of projects,” Stenger says.

Source: Best Small Library in America 2013: Southern Area Public Library, WV [Library Journal, 25 Jan 2013

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