Starting a Friends Group

The original Friends group at the Huntley Area Public Library began almost 25 years ago when the library district was formed. A book club of about 20 book lovers started the Friends group. Four years ago the original group disbanded and a new Friends Foundation was formed so the group could expand its fundraising efforts. Today’s Friends Foundation functions as both Friends and fundraisers. I serve as the staff liaison to the Friends. The group is led by a nine member board of directors. A member of the Library Board of Directors attends the Friends board meetings. Membership has grown to about 260 and the group raises $50,000+ yearly. Fundraising has expanded from hosting book sales to breakfast and tea fundraisers, mini-links in the library, and Library Lover auctions and events. Following are some of my thoughts and suggestions for starting a Friends group.

Decide what function the group will have – advocacy, volunteering, or fundraising? Will library staff support the group or will the Friends be independent, move books and do their own promotions? These questions should guide who you recruit. If you want fundraisers, do not apologize for seeking fundraising individuals. You are raising funds to support a vital community resource.

Be patient. Growing a group will take time and effort. Start by building a dedicated core group. Look for potential members in book clubs and at library programs. Ask your staff for the names of patrons who are regular library users and supporters. Most importantly, ASK individuals to be Friends. Encourage your recruits to recruit their friends. Treat each and every recruit with respect and make them feel needed and appreciated. Friends are volunteers and to retain a volunteer their work should be meaningful, they need to feel appreciated, and there should be a social aspect to the volunteer work to keep everyone coming back. Our Friends groups likes to say they put the fun in fundraising, which is why they keep volunteering!

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There are a few legal considerations when starting a Friends group. Whether you decide to apply for 501(c)(3) status or simply register as a charitable organization with the state, legal considerations are important. The advantage of seeking 501(c)(3) status for our group was that we were able to apply for and received grants that benefit the library. Follow state and federal laws, register the group and file and pay appropriate taxes. I recommend finding an attorney and an accountant who will donate their time to help you sort through the laws and regulations if you need help. Groups that fundraise may owe Illinois state sales tax on book sales or the sale of items, whether the group has state and federal tax exemption or not. While I wish our group did not have to pay state sales tax on book sales, we do because it is the law. Don’t let the legal and tax considerations dissuade you from starting a Friends group. The benefits to a library in terms of volunteers, fundraising capacity and the good will and advocacy a Friends’ group provide outweigh the other issues.

There are many things staff and group can do to help themselves grow. First, word of mouth, or talking about the group helps spread the word. Staff and Friends should be encouraged to talk about the Friends whenever possible. There is no substitute for making a personal connection and asking others to join the Friends. This holds true for fundraising, too. Make a personal connection. People will join and make donations because you took the time to make the connection. People give to people, not causes (Bray, 2010, p. 33).

More thoughts about getting started and sustaining a vibrant Friends group.

  • Build a database of names. Collect names and addresses whenever possible. A Friends group will not survive without a donor database, even if you use that database for nothing more than to recruit volunteers and advertise book sales. If the group does not grow, it will fail. Use the list to recruit volunteers to help with fundraisers or to help at library functions. This is the beginning of your fundraising database. Our group started with an Excel spreadsheet and now uses Access for our database. There are other fundraising software programs that might fit your needs better.
  • Membership Fees. Will you collect annual membership fees? We do because it helps grow our database and it is a source of fundraising. You decide. Individual memberships for our Friends start at $10 a year. We offer individual lifetime memberships for $100 and Corporate Lifetime Memberships for $250. We are inclusive, though, and anyone can join for free if the fee is too high.
  • Book Sales. Book sales provide the library a way to recycle its discards and give patrons an avenue for disposing of unwanted books while helping the library raise money. An added benefit of hosting book sales is that it demonstrates social responsibility. With the growing electronic books market, our Friends group saw a decrease in overall book sales two years ago but this year’s sales were even with last. That could change, but for now it is our number one fundraiser. We raised $22,425 last year in book sales that included bi-monthly sales in a small program room and ongoing Corner Books sales in the library. We also recycle books for money through Discover Books*.

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  • Promote your group. Create a brand for your group by developing a logo, even a simple one, and use it on all materials. A website and a Facebook presence are helpful when you are able to expand your promotional efforts. Your core group should consider developing a formal strategic plan that evaluates resources and competition and develops a mission and vision statement to help the group stay focused.
  • Connect with other Friends Groups. In northern Illinois Friends groups have formed a group, NIRF (Northern Illinois Regional Friends). We meet quarterly at libraries in the region. We share information about recruiting friends, fundraising, and discuss book sale issues. It is a great way to meet other like-minded Friends and offer support to each other. At this group we discovered several of us participate in Farmers’ Market events.   What a great place to meet local people and promote your library!

Building a Friends group will take time and patience but it is worth the effort whether your goal is to gain volunteers, raise funds, advocate for the library or all three. I welcome your comments or questions at pkampwerth@huntleylibrary.org.

Pamela Kampwerth is the Head of Volunteer and Outreach Services at the Huntley Area Public Library.

You can learn more about the Huntley Area Public Library Friends group by going to their web site, www.huntleylibraryfriends.org, or visiting their Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/huntleyfriends.

You can contact NIRF (Northern Illinois Regional Friends) through their blog, https://nirfblog.wordpress.com/contact-nirf.

References

Bray, Ilona. (2010). Effective fundraising for nonprofits: Real-world strategies that work. (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Nolo.

* http://www.discoverbooks.com/

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How-To Market a How-To Fest

The library is always a place of learning and discovery, but even more so during Glenside Public Library District’s annual How-To Fest each fall. Inspired by the How-To Festival at the Louisville Public Library (http://www.lfpl.org/how-to/), GPLD hosted its first event in September 2013. Our first attempt was successful, but we learned a lot of things that would have made it better for both patrons and presenters. Since staff spend months preparing for this one day event, we knew that marketing would be integral to its success. We concentrated hard on that effort in September 2014 and felt we were a lot more successful by expanding our PR on many levels. Let’s take a look at some of successes, failures as well as what we learned from them.

Social Media:

We didn’t harness our social media outlets properly leading up to our inaugural event and, as a result, attendance suffered.

How to 1

In 2014, thanks to a coordinated effort between staff, the library posted teaser information about topics leading up to the event and an album afterwards. Having our full lineup planned out and scheduled throughout the building in advance for the day helped us organize our posts as well as include links to our complete schedule and photos to gain attention.

How to 4

Newsletter: The How-To Fest has always been front page news in GPLD’s newsletter. In 2013 we published a brief and purposefully vague description due to time constraints. That all changed in 2014. Thanks to a longer lead time, we were able to promote high interest presenters and encourage registration for the lectures.

How to 6

Word of Mouth: Again the first year we didn’t do very well in this aspect, but we utilized this strategy to an extreme in 2014. When helping patrons up and until the event we were able to “sell” our fest by reminding them that the day would feature someone to work on resumes (for job-seekers) or crafters (for those checking out books from the 700’s) etc. This built up a buzz with no cost, and inspired people to save the date and time for their favorite happenings.

Our Programming Coordinator also shared information about the event with fellow programming librarians. Thanks to her efforts, we had several libraries send out delegates to check out what we were doing. This was a boon for us: it helped us get presenters at a free or reduced rate since they knew there would be opportunities to get their contact information out to other potential employers.

Large Format Signage: In 2014 we purchased a large colorful banner that we hung on the front of the building approximately a month before the fest. The sign increased awareness of those entering the building and staff saw an increase in requests for further information. We also secured space on Glendale Height’s Village Marquee. This electronic sign is located at a busy intersection in our small village. These two opportunities opened up our event to the outside world and brought us participants who lived outside of our service areas.

Promotions: As a way to encourage attendance, we created a punch card. Everyone who visited a booth or lecture was invited to have the presenter initial their card. If they attended five different events, they were put into a drawing to win one of several prizes. We bought or solicited items that the instructors made for prizes to tie the reward back to our event.

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Marketing Library Resources: The How-To Fest is a fantastic opportunity to market library resources! Staff pulled materials related to the topics at the fest and displayed them at the tables and lectures. For 2015, we plan to have a staff member demonstrating library databases and offering giveaways to attendees.

Looking ahead to 2015: As with any project, we knew to meet and discuss to plan for changes and improvements to make 2015’s event even better. We also solicited feedback from presenters as well attendees to give us ideas on how to host an event that is relevant to the wants and needs of our community, but also make it a rewarding experience to those giving us their valuable time. As a result, major changes in scheduling demonstrations, staffing, and marketing are in the works.

Karen Luster is the Adult Services Manager and  Jane Hebert is the Adult Programming Librarian at Glenside Public Library District.

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Connecting with Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

How many entrepreneurs and small business owners are in your library community? Maybe more than you think. A November Entrepreneur article explains that there are 17.9 million “solopreneuers” in the United States and growing (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/239522). In Barrington, where I am the Business Liaison Librarian for the Barrington Area Library, nearly 80% of businesses in this community are comprised of only 1-4 employees. While they may have a lot of energy, vigor, and innovation, this group typically is limited on time and money. This makes it even more imperative for local libraries to reach out to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

As an embedded librarian, I work closely with the business community through consistent involvement in committees, networking opportunities, and speaking and training engagements with business owners and professionals. However, these entrepreneurs and business owners can also be valuable resources to the community. By creating a platform where entrepreneurs and business owners can share their story and lessons, fellow professionals can gain insights and perspectives from their very own community.

barrington-area-library-logo-copy

The Barrington Area Library has a Business: It’s Better in Barrington series in which over twenty businesses to date have had an opportunity to share their business story with the community. Provided at no cost, these 3 minute videos allow owners to talk about their business and how it relates to the community. My colleague and I do an initial consultation, bring the equipment (camcorder, tripod, mic, and camera) for the video shoot date, and edit the video on iMovie. Our goal is to provide a video for one business per month. From high school students who won a $15,000 grant to start a business to family bakeries and delis that have been in the community for generations, every owner has a valuable story to share. Once completed, we upload the videos onto our website and social media. To date, our business videos have more than 4,000 views. (http://balibrary.org/business/videos.html).

More recently, I started a podcast series with local entrepreneurs. In a radio-style format, I interview people who have decided to become their own boss about the joys and challenges that they have faced as entrepreneurs. This includes discussions of purchasing an existing business or franchise, joining a family business, or starting from scratch. The podcasts are each about 10-15 minutes and are shared on the library’s website and social media. Additionally, the interviewees each get a link to the podcast so that they can promote it on their social media and share it with friends, family, and clients. This only requires podcasting software (I use Garageband, but a free version is Audacity) and a SoundCloud account which allows you to upload roughly 3 hours of audio for free. (https://soundcloud.com/balibrary)

With an increasing population of entrepreneurs, it is so important for libraries to develop connections with these business professionals. Sharing library resources, workshops, and opportunities is important, but it is also necessary to create an avenue to share experiences and perspective digitally. While databases and books provide the technical information, community connections form the relationships and insights that are invaluable any entrepreneur.

Barbara Alvarez is the Business Liaison Librarian at the Barrington Area Library.

Posted in Networking, Outreach, Tips and Tools | 2 Comments

Lima Public Library’s Teen Advisory Group

The teen advisory group (TAG) at Lima Public Library currently consists of about 15 teens in grades 6-12 from a variety of area schools.  Working with the teen librarian, they plan nearly all the teen programs, help with selection of materials, and have even planned and presented programs for kids. 

The TAG was formed four years ago.  To start the group, the teen librarian invited several regular program participants to meet to brainstorm program ideas.  The teens seemed to enjoy the idea that they could have input on what programs were offered.  By scheduling and planning programs with teen input the library was able to increase the average attendance at teen programs from 5-10 to 20-30. Those initial members invited friends to join the group, and the group expanded.  TAG members have an application to fill out with their information, why they want to be a part of the TAG, and what their hobbies and favorite classes are.  The current TAG members vote on new members and have never turned anyone down to date. 

Members are expected to attend the monthly planning meetings. One unexcused absence results in a warning.  Two puts them on probation and a third results in their removal from the group. Excused absences do not count against them.  A typical meeting includes about 60 minutes of program planning, 30 minutes of talking about various topics including what they’re reading, favorite music, movies, tv shows and books, and 30 minutes of program preparation and setup for the monthly special program that follows the meeting.

At the planning meetings, programs are planned several months in advance.  Lima Public Library offers a Creativity Lab program after school twice monthly, a Teen Tuesday evening hangout weekly, a monthly movie night, and a special program one Saturday a month.  A small group of two to four TAG members are assigned to each special program. The whole group selects a theme for the program, and the small group plans what activities will occur at that event.  They provide the teen librarian with the activities planned, materials needed, and a setup plan for the Teen Spot Lounge.  The teen librarian works with them to modify plans as needed to fit the library’s needs and the programming budget.  The planning group then presents the program to participants.  Recently they’ve hosted a series of fandom-related programs including Nerdfighters, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Marvel Comics.  On several occasions they have planned and presented programs for kids as well.

A group of members who are voracious readers are given the opportunity to write reviews of books they’ve read, provide input on materials that are selected for the collection, and read ARCs as well. These readers also help to pull materials for a variety of display topics selected by them as well as the teen librarian.  These materials fill the four display areas in the teen collection and are rotated on a monthly basis. Book reviews are completed on a form provided by the teen librarian and include a 1-2 sentence book talk that is shared on the library’s teen Facebook page.

In return for their work planning programs and giving input on materials selection, TAG members are rewarded with a yearly overnighter program.  They get to come to the library at 6:00 on a Friday evening and stay until 8:00 the next morning.  They fill the night with games and activities of their choosing including some that can’t be done while the library is open such as flashlight tag, beach ball volleyball on the main floor of the library, and human Battleship.

For more information about Lima Public Library’s TAG, how it operates, or about their programs, contact teen librarian Steve Moser at mosers@limalibrary.com or 419-228-5113 x121.

Steve Moser is the Teen Librarian at Lima Public Library.
www.facebook.com/LPLTeens
www.limalibrary.com

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Lima Public Library’s Teen Advisory Group

The teen advisory group (TAG) at Lima Public Library currently consists of about 15 teens in grades 6-12 from a variety of area schools.  Working with the teen librarian, they plan nearly all the teen programs, help with selection of materials, and have even planned and presented programs for kids.

The TAG was formed four years ago.  To start the group, the teen librarian invited several regular program participants to meet to brainstorm program ideas.  The teens seemed to enjoy the idea that they could have input on what programs were offered.  By scheduling and planning programs with teen input the library was able to increase the average attendance at teen programs from 5-10 to 20-30. Those initial members invited friends to join the group, and the group expanded.  TAG members have an application to fill out with their information, why they want to be a part of the TAG, and what their hobbies and favorite classes are.  The current TAG members vote on new members and have never turned anyone down to date.

Members are expected to attend the monthly planning meetings. One unexcused absence results in a warning.  Two puts them on probation and a third results in their removal from the group. Excused absences do not count against them.  A typical meeting includes about 60 minutes of program planning, 30 minutes of talking about various topics including what they’re reading, favorite music, movies, tv shows and books, and 30 minutes of program preparation and setup for the monthly special program that follows the meeting.

At the planning meetings, programs are planned several months in advance.  Lima Public Library offers a Creativity Lab program after school twice monthly, a Teen Tuesday evening hangout weekly, a monthly movie night, and a special program one Saturday a month.  A small group of two to four TAG members are assigned to each special program. The whole group selects a theme for the program, and the small group plans what activities will occur at that event.  They provide the teen librarian with the activities planned, materials needed, and a setup plan for the Teen Spot Lounge.  The teen librarian works with them to modify plans as needed to fit the library’s needs and the programming budget.  The planning group then presents the program to participants.  Recently they’ve hosted a series of fandom-related programs including Nerdfighters, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Marvel Comics.  On several occasions they have planned and presented programs for kids as well.

A group of members who are voracious readers are given the opportunity to write reviews of books they’ve read, provide input on materials that are selected for the collection, and read ARCs as well. These readers also help to pull materials for a variety of display topics selected by them as well as the teen librarian.  These materials fill the four display areas in the teen collection and are rotated on a monthly basis. Book reviews are completed on a form provided by the teen librarian and include a 1-2 sentence book talk that is shared on the library’s teen Facebook page.

In return for their work planning programs and giving input on materials selection, TAG members are rewarded with a yearly overnighter program.  They get to come to the library at 6:00 on a Friday evening and stay until 8:00 the next morning.  They fill the night with games and activities of their choosing including some that can’t be done while the library is open such as flashlight tag, beach ball volleyball on the main floor of the library, and human Battleship.

Contact Teen Librarian, Steve Moser at mosers@limalibrary.com or 419-228-5113 x121 for more information.

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Creating an Awesome Ground Breaking Event, Brick by Brick

Newsletter Ad and Facebook Post

Newsletter Ad and Facebook Post

Normally when you attend a ground breaking event there’s …..well, there’s ground to break. So what happens when you have to organize a ground breaking event that’s taking place indoors?

This was the challenge facing the Helen Matthes Library in December 2014, when work would finally begin on the refurbishment of a former bank building into a new 26,000 sq. ft. library facility for the Effingham community.

We set our objectives for the event.

  • It needed to be visual and active – both for the audience attending and for the media who we hoped would cover the event.
  • It needed to be kid friendly. (We’re a public library!)
  • It needed to showcase what we do for the community to potential library card holders, potential donors and the Effingham business community.

With all its furniture removed the bank building was a dreary back drop to the project. There would be no blue skies to brighten things up but then again weather would not be a worry as we organized the event.

How would we make it a community and media worthy event?

Almost immediately we knew we wanted to incorporate our weekly story time into the event. Story Time is the program most associated in people’s minds with the Library, and also one of the most fun. So we let that set the day and the time for our event; Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Our Youth Services jumped on board with a Construction themed story time. We planned to take over the story time rug which would help brighten the room. At very little expense, we were able to purchase yellow plastic construction hats which we decorated with our Library Logo. Each attendee would get a hat. We were already starting to visualize the event and just how much fun the kids would have.

At this point our contractor let us know that they would be able to construct a wall that would be “broken” by the dignitaries during the official ground breaking. They would also supply the hammers and construction hats. One less things for us to worry about……and it gave us an idea for the kids.

The kids would get their own wall smashing ceremony. Thanks to 2 local preschools and donations from staff members we were able to gather enough colorful cardboard play bricks to create 15ft long wall for the kids.

Our vision for the event was really taking shape, and tying in so nicely with our fundraising campaign but how would we deal with children getting bored with the speech making and how would we deal with grown-ups getting bored with too many pre-school stories?

We set up the timeline for the event.

  • 10 a.m. Opening with Story Time Song followed by construction themed story time
  • 10:05 a.m. Kids ground breaking ceremony.
  • Youth Services lead the children and care givers to a glass fronted room for crafts and play with Lego and construction toys.
  • 10:10 Speeches
  • 10:30 Official Ground Breaking
  • 10:30 Refreshments

With just a few short weeks between confirming the bid winning contractor and the date for the commencement of demolition work we quickly chose the date of Tuesday, December 2nd. Dignitaries, speech makers and the invite list needed to be finalized and marketing needed to kick into gear.

Borrowing heavily from our fundraising campaign, artwork was finalized for the invitations, program of the event, flyers, and an ad for the December Library Newsletter, a Facebook Page Cover Image and Facebook post. The press release was finalized and sent out to an extended media list. Family Read Night was just 12 days before the event allowing us to promote the Ground Breaking further to families in the community. Artwork would also be used in a Constant Contact promoting the event. There was no budget for paid for advertising but we would still get word out about our event.

We decide to close the library for one hour during the ceremony; we hoped it would also encourage more patrons to join us for the event. This would be a big day for our staff and we wanted them to be as much a part of it as our community.

Responsibilities were shared out and timelines produced showing what needed to be done and by whom in the run up to the event, during the event and post event. Floor plans were drawn up showing where each part of the ceremony would be. Walk-throughs were done with key members of staff involved in the event so everyone could visualize and know what would be happening and what to expect.

What was our last minute thought…..”How do we stop the kids knocking down the wall before the right moment?” This was quickly solved with some colored spots placed discretely behind the wall. After their story time, the children marched single file behind the wall and despite some temptation all stood on their circles as asked. We did a little count down and then let them loose on the wall. It was the moment we had all been waiting for.

In the end we couldn’t have been happier with the way the event went; from showcasing Story Time to older patrons and the local business community, to the grandson of Mayor Gillenwater, speech-bombing the mayor just as he was talking about how important story time had been in the life of his children and grandchildren (thank you Mrs Gillenwater!), to the coverage by local media which included video footage of the children’s demolition and the feedback from all who attended. The event was a success.

http://youtu.be/fJtngDVAk7Y

We had shown our community that we are a fun, educational and creative establishment at the heart of this community and we can’t wait to get into our new building and show our community just what we can do with the space that you are giving us.

Check out the results below and see the attached event planning checklist:

Story Time Area, with Kids Wall and Branded "Construction Hats"

Story Time Area, with Kids Wall and Branded “Construction Hats”

Story Time begins

Story Time begins

Ready to break the wall down

Ready to break the wall down

As Mayor Gillenwater spoke on the importance of Story Time in the lives of his children and grandchildren, he was "ambushed" by his grandson.

As Mayor Gillenwater spoke on the importance of Story Time in the lives of his children and grandchildren, he was “ambushed” by his grandson.

The "Official" demolition.

The “Official” demolition.

Even the catering used the construction theme.

Even the catering used the construction theme.

After everyone had gone home, we let our staff loose on the wall.

After everyone had gone home, we let our staff loose on the wall.

Catherine Bailey is the Marketing and Adult Services Coordinator for the Helen Matthes Library.

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Part Two: Helen Matthes Library “Synopsis of Training Session “

First Impression

To a customer, YOU are YOUR Library and you may be one of the only contacts he or she will have with the organisation. From first impressions made through personal and telephone contact, all of your customers will come to a conclusion about what kind of person is serving them and the perception of your business is based upon the impression YOU create.

 Creating a positive first impression

  • Make sure you are appropriately groomed
  • Always greet customers as soon as they enter your building
  • Keep workspaces, entrance and public areas clean & tidy
  • Never make assumptions
  • Treat your co-workers the way they would like to be treated
  • Be aware of your posture, poise and facial expressions
  • And SMILE!

Three Parts to the Communication Process

  •  Verbal 7%
  • Vocal 38%
  • Non-verbal 55%

Making Conversation

Knowing how to start a conversation is vital in the service industry. A conversation can help a visitor feel welcome and more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. It may help YOU gain the information you need to solve a problem or serve the customer’s needs

Use Open Questions

  • Who, what, where, when, which and how (5W, 1H)

Avoid Closed Questions

  • Can, does, do , will , would and “yes” or “no”

Telephone Skills

Professional telephone techniques are essential skills for ensuring continuity of service. Your customers will form an impression of your organisation based upon how every single one of you sound on the phone.

The Cost of a Dissatisfied Customer

1 unhappy patron + 26 other unhappy patrons = 27 unhappy patrons

27 unhappy patrons tell up to 10 others = 270

270 people have heard about a bad experience with your company!

Listen

  • Remain calm
  • Give encouraging responses
  • Mirror feelings
  • Clarify facts
  • Work together

The Art of Service Recovery

  • Take ownership
  • Have a positive approach
  • Apologize
  • Listen
  • Thank them
  • Keep your promises
  • Follow up

Now it’s up to you!

GEM
Going the Extra Mile is easy… once you have the directions.

Catherine Bailey is the Marketing and Adult Services Coordinator for the Helen Matthes Library.

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