Creative ways for your small library to create revenue with minimal work

Kroger Community Rewards— Your library will get a quarterly check based on the spending habits of patrons who select your library as their community reward benefactor. Setting up your library to be a benefactor of Kroger Community Rewards is quick and easy. Approximately 10 days after filling out the online form and submitting any requested supporting documentation your organization will be active to start earning money. After receiving conformation and an organization number from Kroger the next step is for your patrons to log into their Kroger Plus Account to select your library as the organization to receive the community rewards benefit.

For more information visit:

Thrift books library program–  Your library will get a monthly check for weeded and donated books sold on your behalf by Thrift Books. After signing up for the program you will be given an account login for a site where you simply scan the ISBN of the unwanted books to see if Thrift Books is interested in them. From there you pack them up, affix prepaid UPS labels on them and send them out. Thrift Books will market and sell the books and split the proceeds with your library. Any books that do not sell are eventually recycled by Thrift Books. Small libraries are often short on storage space so this is a great way to keep inventory manageable even if you hold an annual or semi-annual book sale.

For more information visit:

Amazon Smile—Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of the cost of eligible purchases to your organization. Your library’s 501(c)(3) has to be on file with GuideStar USA Inc. in order to enroll in the Amazon Smile Program. There are detailed steps to follow to apply to the program and also steps to verify status with GuideStar USA Inc. if needed.  The library must provide checking account information to Amazon Smile as they only send electronic transfers of the earned donation amount each quarter. Patrons will have to select your library as their benefactor on their Amazon account.

For more information visit:

Roger A. Donaldson, II, Network Administrator
Jackson City Library, OH

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Fundraising 101: tightening our belts another notch

In lieu of Governor Kasich’s recent proposed cuts (still subject to changes by Legislature) to the Public Library Fund (PLF)—a proposal which would dole out $57 million less than 2008 amounts to Ohio’s 251 public libraries!—I thought it apropos to visit the subject of fundraising.

Who (benefits from fundraising): Obviously when seeking donations it’s important to share information regarding the program needing support, and which of your patrons/community members will most be affected by it, but it’s just as important to inform the businesses of how you’ll make them famous in your community! Let businesses know exactly which newspapers/radio stations/websites/the library’s blogs/social media pages, etc. you will be appreciating them on! Send donors news clips from the local newspapers; articles featuring the programs which their dollars funded shows how their money is being spent!

What (donations are you seeking): Before requesting anything from a business/organization it is best to know what exactly you’ll need for the program/project you have in mind. If you’re hosting a Pool Party as part of Summer Reading, you might be requesting a donation of the pool and lifeguard coverage, not necessarily a financial donation. Be specific. How much or how many hours. Or if your library is hosting a Gingerbread House event you may choose to request candy and other supplies vs. money from your local grocery. Remember a donation doesn’t have to be monetary, it is anything that fills a need!

Where (to seek donors): Go big or go home is one of our mantras. Start with your local area businesses, universities, organizations (Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, etc.), then move to other larger businesses within your county. Larger corporations that specialize in something may be more willing to support a venture that aligns with their focus, i.e. Marathon Petroleum may be more likely to sponsor a STEM program—they know the importance of science and math for kids! And if they don’t, educate them! We are located in the NW section of the state, and yet we solicited and received donations from Toledo, Columbus, and Cleveland—all locations between 1-2.5 hours away! Corporations are compelled to donate certain monies each year, and it always look great for businesses to help non-profits, so it’s a win-win.

When requesting donations make sure you not only briefly explain the program, but also, and more importantly, explain why it’s important to your target group. Consider adding a couple statistics that show how successful this program was in years past, for example:

“We believe that with the support of our local community and businesses we will not only help children stay on top of their education, but also spread the love of reading to our community! Readers make readers—adults who read to children spread a love of reading and a curiosity and hunger for more knowledge!

The numbers speak for themselves! Just look at the FANTASTIC participation numbers we saw in 2016…”

Why: Libraries are constantly faced with budget concerns and “tightening our belts,” so not only is it prudent to seek outside assistance, but it also looks great when you’ve been awarded outside monies—it says to your patrons and communities, “see how hard we’re working to make our money stretch!”—also not a bad thing for patrons to be aware of, especially if you run a levy (or levy renewal) campaign. Make sure anytime you are awarded grants you advertise that fact by getting an article into the local paper or radio, advertise your award on social media/the library’s website/blog, etc. Not only is this a great time to shine on your success, but it’s also an opportunity to share with the community how you’re going to use this money, and also yet another opportunity to thank the donor!

When: When seeking donations or finding grants that you’re interested in make sure you mind the deadlines. Set reminders in your calendars that allow plenty of time for you to get your application ready and reviewed before submission. If you are seeking funding/donations for particular programs, i.e. Summer Reading, allow extra time for requests to be reviewed—we learned from one town civic organization that their last “business” meeting of the year was April, so we made sure they had our donation request letter by March.

How: If you’re not sure what’s out there, take a beginner’s grant writing course (some libraries occasionally offer these free of charge!) Have a grant writing guru on your board or in your community? Ask them if they’d be willing to donate some time to help you get started! Start small and simple. Don’t get overwhelmed.

Some great places to start if you’re specifically looking for library grants:

Amanda Bennett, Director
Ada Public Library, OH

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Creating Community Through StoryWalk

I think we can all agree that making our libraries more visible in the communities we serve should be one of our most important goals.  One great way to do that is to work with your community to install StoryWalk.  StoryWalk® is a fun and innovative way for people of all ages to exercise their bodies, as well as their minds. The library-sponsored StoryWalk in Dover is located in the City Park around a charming pond. As you take your walk counter-clockwise around the pond, you will come to 17 posts which contain 2-page spreads of a children’s picture book. By the time you have come full-circle, you will have read a book in its entirety.  StoryWalk® was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and was developed with the help of  Rachel Senechal of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalks® have been installed in 50 states and 11 countries including, Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia and Pakistan. Thanks to the City of Dover and our post sponsors, the Dover Public Library has been able to bring StoryWalk® to the Dover, Ohio community.  Each month a new story is installed in the StoryWalk posts. We make StoryWalk titles available for sponsorship for only $50 (covers the purchase of two children’s books which need to be cut up and laminated individually). If you sponsor a story, you may choose a title (pending Library approval; must be family-friendly and no more than 32 pages long). You may also make the story more personal by adding a short bio or a write-up explaining what the story means to you.

To be completely honest, StoryWalk for our library has been a public relations bonanza.  Working with the City of Dover has been great and the project brought a lot of attention and publicity to both the library and the City of Dover.  We encouraged local civic groups like Rotary and Exchange Club to sponsor a post ($350), as well as individuals in the community.  My parents, for example, sponsored a post in memory of my older sister, Jenny, who passed away in a car accident.  Dani Gustavich, our Children’s Services Manager, was the person who brought StoryWalk to my attention.  It was her passion and commitment to getting the funding in place that made the project a reality.  Dani planned a wonderful ribbon cutting ceremony that included invitations to city officials, sponsors, and members of the community.  On top of that, children’s author and illustrator Will Hillenbrand’s book, Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! was selected as the very first title to be featured in our StoryWalk.  Hillenbrand himself came and read his book and participated in the ribbon cutting.

If you are looking for a great community project that involves multiple organizations and partners, then perhaps StoryWalk is right for your library.  For more information, go to:

Jim Gill, Director
Dover Public Library

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Big Talk, Small Libraries

The Public Libraries in Ohio are some of the greatest in the nation. We have awesome libraries due to local and state support, as well as advocacy support of the Ohio Library Council. We have incredible continuing education offered through OLC, the State Library of Ohio, Regional Library Services, and consortia, to name a few resources.

As small libraries, we sometimes have trouble finding the time or funding to get away to bigger events such as conferences and conventions. Your Small Library Action Council understands this, and we are working to make events more accessible for you.

In the meantime, we believe it is important to share resources with you that could help you in your libraries. There are two upcoming online conferences, which are both free, that you should know about.

The first conference is BIG TALK FROM SMALL LIBRARIES 2017 presented by Nebraska Library Commission. The conference will take place February 24, 8:45 – 5:00. You can find more information at this link:

The second conference is LIBRARY 2.017: EXPERTISE, COMPETENCIES, AND CAREERS. This conference is open to libraries of all sizes, and will take place March 29, 3:00 – 6:00. You can find more information at this link:

I have attended a Library 2.0 conference in the past. Not only is it full of great information, but it can also be a fun experience from the comfort of your library. You navigate to different sessions, browse the vendor exhibits, and you can interact with presenters, attendees, and vendors.

I encourage you to think about these options for additional, free, continuing education.

Cheers and happy learning!

Betsy Eggers, Director
Napoleon Public Library

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Beefing Up Your Events Calendar: Successful Programming for Smaller Libraries

At the Ohio Library Council’s 2016 Convention & Expo I had the pleasure of co-moderating the UN-Program, “Beefing Up Your Events Calendar: Successful Programming for Smaller Libraries,” with Tom Dillie of Minerva Public Library. In case you’ve never attended an UN-Program, the focus is to allow folks to share information in a very casual fashion, and hopefully walk away with at least a new idea or two.

Our UN-Program was well attended and flushed out many varied program ideas. I typed up a list of the program ideas and respective library that hosted the program, with the hope that folks could take the notes off the OLC Convention & Expo site post-conference, but wanted to again share them here, in the event that folks didn’t get to see them while they were available online.

Listed are the names of the program and hosting library, some also have a name attached too. Feel free to contact the library to get more information on how you can borrow their idea for your library!

  • Puzzle Exchange: Norwalk, Monroeville, Sandusky
  • March Madness (w authors instead of basketball: Lane Library (Fairfield), Amanda
  • Transform Your Life (Unplugged – 8 weeks of programs): Sandusky
  • Zentangles Coloring: Green Co.
  • Spotlight on ___ series (includes things like Religious Tolerance or Heroin Addiction): Lima Public Library, Dani
  • Seed Library: Williams County Library
  • Cursive Writing Competition: Paulding Co. Library
  • Cookbook Club: Lane Hamilton (? Can’t read my writing)
  • Build a Better World (cook food based on your ethnicity): Warren Trumbul
  • Fun for Foodies Cookbook Club (recipe and recipe card to share): Sandusky
  • “Ada Chats” (local speakers share passionate topics 10-15 minutes, based on TED Talks): Ada Public Library
  • Amazing Race: Way Public Library
  • Pokemon Walk: Sandusky
  • Masking Tape/Painting/Monograming canvases: Monroeville
  • Goodwill Upcycle art: Sandusky
  • String Art: Monroeville
  • Archery Programs: Milan Berlin Library
  • Pop Culture programs (Walking Dead, International Dalek Day, Dr. Who): Milan Berlin Library
  • Family Yoga: Delaware Co. (Powell)
  • Lunch w/ lyrics (music in park featuring diff. bands) Birchard Library (Fremont)
  • Sports for Dummies: Birchard Library
  • ODR Hunters Education: Highland Library
  • Beer Tasting w local bar: Highland Library
  • Book Brunch: Highland Library
  • Murder Mystery: Highland
  • Women’s Self Defense (Sheriff’s Dept): Paulding Co. Library
  • Book Discussion @ Local Bar: Cleveland Heights
  • Haunted Library: Williams Co.
  • Staff Readers Theater: Coshocton

 Amanda Bennett, Director
Ada Public Library

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Two Interesting Studies

Two Interesting Studies

Pew Research just released two studies dealing with reading and libraries. Both are quite enlightening. Following are some highlights and links to the studies if you want to read them.

Book Reading 2016


  • Americans are reading at the same rate as they did in 2012.
  • People are more likely to read a print book over an electronic book.
  • 65% have read a print book in the last year, while only 28% have read an ebook.
  • 38% only read print books, while 6% only read digital books. 28% read both formats.
  • Young adults (ages 18-29) are more likely to read print books than seniors.
  • College graduates and women are more likely to read in general.

Libraries 2016


  • Most Americans feel the library is an important part of the community.
  • 80% feel libraries should be teaching digital skills.
  • 57% feel libraries should offer more comfortable seating for reading, studying, etc.
  • 24% felt that books should be removed to make space for other uses, while 31% said books should remain.
  • 77% say the library has resources they need.
  • 69% see libraries a safe place.
  • 58% feel the library opens up educational opportunities for all ages.
  • 53% of American have interacted with their library in the past year, with 48% visiting the physical library (or a satellite location)
  • Young adults (ages 18-29) are more likely to visit the library than seniors.
  • Borrowing books is by far the most popular service offered by libraries (64% of library users have checked out a book in the past year).
  • 55% see the library as a place to get service during a crisis.

What stands out in these two studies is that books are still an integral part of our lives, despite competition from the Internet, streaming services, and gaming.  I suspect that the widespread use of mobile technology probably increases the potential for someone to read versus doing some of these other activities.  Although it looks like people are still more inclined to read print books, having access to ebooks on a tablet or smartphone definitely does not hinder reading.  Rather, mobile technology makes books more accessible and convenient.

Likewise, it’s fascinating that a large portion of people think libraries need to create more space for reading, studying, etc., but don’t think books should be removed to make the space.  This response indicates that our users still value our physical collections, which is further demonstrated in the fact that borrowing books is still the most used service.  So we shouldn’t be quick to remove print in favor of ebooks.  A balanced approach to collection management is needed.

Finally, it is encouraging that most Americans find libraries to be an important part of their communities and utilize our services.  I often am disheartened when someone says, “why do we still need libraries with the Internet,” but these results demonstrate that most people understand our mission and appreciate our services.  Nevertheless, with such positive responses to libraries, reading, and etc., there is a challenge that we do not become apathetic in our profession.  We need to continue adapting to the needs of our users.  We need to listen to our users and constantly evaluate our services and ensure that we are meeting their needs.  Additionally, we need to be aggressive about sharing what we do to our communities, so they understand our mission and goals.  We also need to demonstrate our value, so people can see that their positive opinion of us is not unfounded.

These are just a few of the insights I got from reading these Pew studies.  There are many more, so take some time to browse through them.  Understanding how people use the library and behave in regard to books and information can only empower us to better serve them.

-Chauncey Montgomery,
Community Library, Sunbury, OH

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Lessons from Ray Bradbury

“The night was sweet with the dust of autumn leaves that smelled as if the fine sands of ancient Egypt were drifting to dunes beyond the town.”

-Ray Bradbury in Something Wicked This Way Comes

If you work in a small library it can be a struggle to find the time to do all that needs done.  Leading the library and doing “director” type things like strategic planning, staff training, and performance evaluations must be balanced with day to day tasks like covering the desk because someone called off sick or unclogging the public toilet.  It can be overwhelming reading Library Journal or American Libraries and seeing all the innovative things larger, wealthier libraries are doing. I have found that “Keeping up the Joneses” can be a cancer to the soul.  We must balance staying relevant and battling complacency with serving our communities in the best way possible with the budget and resources we have available.

As I write this, I think about why I got into librarianship. I think about the simple joy of finding a good story in the library stacks and losing myself in that world.  When the stresses of the job get to me, I sometimes grab a cart and a stack of books and go into the stacks and shelve. The order and logic of shelving soothes my mind.  There is something fulfilling in simple tasks like shelving that is akin to the joy that people who work with their hands often feel.  I never fail to find a treasure in the stacks when I shelve. Sometimes it is a classic that I reread and sometimes it is something that I take a chance on.  Recently, I discovered Ray Bradbury’s autumn classic, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Written in 1962 and taking its name from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes), Bradbury’s tale is a magical concoction of the surreal and supernatural with the nostalgic sameness of small-town American life.

Set in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois, Bradbury’s tale tells the story of two 13 year-old best friends, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, who get sucked into a battle between good and evil, light and dark, when one October night right before Halloween a traveling carnival show steams in by rail and sets up shop in a clearing on the edge of town.  “In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare,”(William Morrow Publishers).

Ray Bradbury is famous for his rich word choice and Something Wicked is no exception.  As a librarian, I was captivated by how the public library played such a central role to the story.  As library regulars, both Jim and Will use the library to feed their endless curiosity and their penchant for mischief.  “Jim and Will grinned at each other.  It was all so good, these blowing quiet October nights and the library waiting inside now with its green-shaded lamps and papyrus dust.”  Will’s father Charles, the custodian at the town library, regularly wanders the darkened stacks of the library long after closing time, reading and dreaming from the ancient books on the shelves.

Although Disney made a film version of Bradbury’s book in 1983 starring Jason Robards and Jonathan Pryce, the librarian in me must say that Bradbury’s tale is captured much more powerfully in print than on film.  It all begins with these words….”The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm.  He came along the street of Green Town, Illinois, in the late cloudy October day…”  To find out what happens to Will and Jim and the denizens of Green Town then don’t be afraid to wander in your stacks for a copy of Bradbury’s classic.

Sometimes all you need in life is a good story.  Don’t be too busy to remember why you fell in love with your job in the first place.  Take a moment to get lost in the stacks and to take a chance on a book that finds you.

-Jim Gill, Director
Dover Public Library


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