Community funding can really help libraries in need

DollarsWith the economic roller coaster of the past decade still very much in focus, state budgets are often cutting costs wherever they can.  Unfortunately some lawmakers deem libraries as “non-essential” parts of government services.  This can mean a severe shortfall in the amount of funding received versus the amount needed.

In Springfield, Missouri, however, community funding efforts organized by groups formed to help promote library activities are helping to supplement the income of local library districts.  One organization, Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library District, recently organized a used book, audiobook, CD, DVD, and game sale in order to help keep the system running and improving.

In the end, their sale raised $110,000.  The sale, which is held twice per year (once in the spring and once in the fall) is a major boon to the library system.  In the spring of 2012, the group set their record at nearly $126,000 worth of materials sold within a span of five days.

Since then, promotional techniques and fundraising efforts have further evolved; this year, $5 would get potential buyers into a three hour “preview sale,” where community members and buyers could browse and buy the available materials before the sale opened to the general public for the week.

Regina Greer Cooper, the Executive Director for the library district, said she continued to be impressed at the Friends group’s ability to move so much content and bring in so much money for the library system year after year.  Apparently, this $100,000 mark is regularly surpassed in each bi-annual sale.

The Friends group isn’t new to fundraising either, as they’ve been operating in one form or another since 1984.  The group is made up entirely of volunteers, from those with a direct link to the libraries themselves (librarians and other workers) to kind-hearted community members and volunteers out to do a good deed and contribute to an important local effort.  The group gets their materials through donations from both individuals and from local businesses unloading old stock.  In some cases, the libraries themselves will opt to give up some of their excess copies of books and publications for sale, which in turn makes room on the shelves for new books and materials that will be purchased with the profits from the sale.

The proceeds from this sale, as always, will be divided up amongst the 10 branches that comprise the library system, as well as their mobile library.  The mobile library provides books as well as librarian and author visits to schools in the area.  The funds will not only go toward routine maintenance and the purchasing of new materials, but will also help to fund special community events like concerts for the coming year as well.

All around the country, voters and lawmakers alike are being asked to decide on the money and resources that will be allocated to their local libraries.  While the prevalence of a library system in one’s life varies from individual to individual, communities like Springfield-Greene are making the strong statement that their libraries are to remain treasured and relevant resources well into the 21st century.