Want to make your library more visible in the community? Flyers and social media posts tend to only reach the people that are already looking for library information, but one great way to grow that audience is to have library staff and board members become involved in community organizations.
Having a library presence in community organizations allows the library to reach a broader group of people and participate in other aspects of the community that people may not associate with the library. Offering public meeting space, resource collections, and volunteer opportunities are all ways that libraries can assist these organizations that they may not have thought of yet. Additionally, by broadening the network of people you talk to about the library, you expand your knowledge of the community’s needs and can work on creative ways to solve them using library resources and expertise.
Some possible organizations to join are the Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Elks Club, Eagles Club, or Rotary. However, all organizations in your area that you think could benefit from a library staff or board member should be considered.
Friends of the Library and Library Foundations are excellent groups to help raise money for your library. In order for these organizations to function optimally and to assist with the procurement of grants, it is encouraged for them to obtain a 501(c)(3) status. This means that they are viewed as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under IRS Code, Section 501(c)(3). Please seek the aid of an attorney or CPA to assist in the process of obtaining 501(c)(3) status as laws and common practices are subject to change.
The process to achieve 501(c)(3) status can take over 6 months to complete. The IRS has created a guide outlining the Life Cycle of a Public Charity that can help lead you through this process. In order to achieve 501(c)(3) status, the group must do the following:
- Create an organizing document that contains the following provisions. More information and sample documents can be found here.
- Limit the organization’s purpose to one of the exempt purposes listed in Section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
- State that the organization cannot engage in activities that don’t advance the exempt purpose.
- State that the assets of the organization (money, property, etc.), will be dedicated permanently to the exempt purpose listed.
- Establish a Board of Directors and create bylaws for the group.
- Once the organization is legally established (see page 9 of IRS Publication 4220), obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS online, by mail, or by phone (1-800-829-4933). Applying for an EIN triggers filing requirements, so do not complete this step until you are prepared to move forward with your other forms.
- File Articles of Incorporation for the group with the State of North Dakota as per NDCC 10-33. The paperwork can be found here. There is a $40 filing fee that must accompany the completed form. The ND Secretary of State Office and other state agencies created a guide to beginning and maintaining a nonprofit corporation in ND that can be found here.
- Submit the IRS Form 1023-EZ or Form 1023 depending on your eligibility. Eligibility can be determined using the worksheet in the 1023-EZ directions. Directions for the forms can be found here (1023-EZ) or here (1023).
**You may be exempt from this requirement if your organization has gross receipts in each taxable year that are normally not more than $5,000. Please see http://bit.ly/2REnkD0 for more details.**
- Before the group can solicit contributions, it may need to be registered as a charitable organization through the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office as per NDCC 50-22. That process can be found here.
- The organization will need to follow the tax-code for a 501(c)(3) during the time that their application is in processing. See the IRS page “Tax Law Compliance before Exempt Status is Recognized” for more information. All bank accounts, books, and records for the group need to be separate from the library’s records.
Once the group has acquired 501(c)(3) status, they will need to follow all state and federal filing guidelines to maintain that status. This includes the annual filing of Form 990 and other, unrelated income tax filings, state filings, charitable solicitations reporting, donation substantiation reporting, etc. Additionally, records should be kept for things such as executive compensation, transactions with board members, sources of revenue, accomplishments, expense allocations, details of investments, and organization structure. These things help assure that the group will maintain annual compliance. Most records of the 501(c)(3) group will be subject to public disclosure requirements.
The Digital Initiatives team at the North Dakota State Library has recently created an account on Historypin. Historypin is an online, user-generated archive of photographs, videos, and audio recordings. Users are able to pin their content, to Google Maps. Where Google Street View is available, users can overly their historic images and compare them with the modern view by using the slider feature.
Historypin collects, curates, and organizes stories to bring people together, one story/ pin at a time. Historypin has created and continues to maintain storytelling techniques for thousands of members and organizations across the globe. Historypin helps expand understanding of community history and culture by brining resources to come to life.
The State Library currently has two dozen images on its Historypin account, and more are on the way! The images come from the many ScanDays held in libraries and other organizations across the state. All of the pinned images are Google Street View compatible, so the fun slider feature is available. Each pin also includes certain information about the image, like title, description, location, date, and the link to the full item record on Digital Horizons.
Historypin is free to use, and it is also free to join by creating an account. To explore the State Library’s collection of images on Historypin, visit http://bit.ly/ndslhistorypin
The “Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit” has been released. Members of AASL (American Association of School Librarians), ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) worked together for three years to create a document that benefits both school librarians and public librarians by encouraging them working together collaboratively.
This toolkit provides 5 chapters full of research, information, and examples for librarians to look towards when beginning collaboration initiatives between school and public libraries. There are also scrips and tips for both school and public librarians on how to overcome their different institutional hurdles.
Working together makes libraries and communities stronger. Look through the toolkit here.
ALSC put together a brief explanation of the toolkit here and has a list of successful past partnerships between school and public libraries that can be found here.
Often we assume that everyone in town knows about the library. However, many times people in town don’t know what the library offers beyond books. Sometimes reaching new people requires leaving the library and getting out into the community. Here’s how a few North Dakota libraries have gotten the library involved in local community events:
- Edna Ralston Library’s chess club participated in the parade for Larimore Days.
- McVille Community Library hosts an event to kickoff McVille Days, bringing in a special speaker and then serving dessert to celebrate the Library’s anniversary. The Library also holds an ice cream social fundraiser during the McVille Days Car Show. As one of the few places with air conditioning and public restrooms, plus all the McVille High School trophies and class pictures, the Library is a big draw.
McVille Community Library’s ice cream social for McVille Days
- Walhalla Public Library held a silent auction during the Walhalla Giant Pumpkin Fest that raised nearly $3,000 for the library.
- The Heart of America Library in Rugby participated in “Trunk or Treat” for Halloween sponsored by the Rugby Jaycees. They were “Library Lady Bugs” and handed out bookmarks and candy from the librarian’s decorated VW Beetle.
Trunk or Treating in Rugby
- The McVille Community Library participates in Winter Fest, a community celebration held the last Sunday in November to usher in the Christmas season. The Library hosts a meal, provided by volunteers who love to cook and bake for the Library. The board and volunteers serve the meal, and the Boy Scouts bus tables. There are a variety of events – pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Bingo, Cookie Walk, Silent Auction – which all take place in the city auditorium above the Library, so it is a great opportunity for the Library to have a fundraiser.
How does your library get involved in the community? Share your stories in the comments!
Posted in Outreach
This week I’m highlighting the “Pirate for a Day” program that the Walhalla Public Library hosted at the end of October. I thought it was such as great idea that I wanted to share it with everyone with the hope that it might be a program you could replicate in your community!
Walhalla citizens Crystal and Dale Anderson organized the “Pirate for a Day” program, which acts as the story time theme for the week, a community event for all ages, and a fundraiser for the library all in one fabulous program! So how exactly does this amazing program work?
- Have patrons purchase a “treasure map” at the library for $1.00; Walhalla also offered temporary tattoos for $0.25 and eye patches for $0.50.
- Patrons get the map stamped by local businesses and return it to the library by the deadline to be entered in the prize drawing.
- Have the deadline for the prize drawing coincide with a pirate-themed story time. (Check out this list of pirate book ideas for your story time!)
The Walhalla Public Library had map available Wednesday through Friday, with the deadline the following Tuesday, but you could adapt the schedule to whatever works for your schedule. Additional preparation on the part of the library would require asking local businesses to participate, making a map, and getting a prize donated.
Kids dressed up for pirate story time
(For more photos of Pirate for a Day and all of the library’s fall programming, check out the photos in their Fall 2015 Facebook album.)
This type of program is a fun way to get your entire community involved, and perhaps reach community members who may not yet be library patrons. Has your library done any community-wide programs? Share your ideas in the comments!
Earlier in August I presented on the topic of community partnerships at our annual Summer Summit workshops, so I thought I’d highlight a few of the resources I covered for those who were unable to attend. At the workshops, Mary discussed community engagement and the report “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries” from The Aspen Institute. I focused on the first “Strategy for Success” from the report, which is “Aligning library services in support of community goals.”
In order to identify community goals, it’s helpful to get out into the community and talk to other organizations because “libraries that are valued by their communities involve the people, local groups and government agencies in developing services and programs.” This isn’t something you just add to your list of things to do. It’s a crucial task that must be incorporated into your broader strategic plan. If you missed our Summer Summit on strategic planning, you can still access the resources to help you get started. Continue reading
September is Library Card Sign-Up Month! Library Card Sign-Up Month is a great opportunity to encourage your community to visit the library and get a card, but really it’s an ideal opportunity to highlight your resources and services and generally raise awareness about the library in your community. It doesn’t do you much good if people get library cards but never use them to access library resources! If you haven’t started getting ready, check out ALA’s site for resources to supplement your campaign.
Snoopy is the 2015 mascot, and you can download a poster to print as well as images you can use online. ALA also offers a press release and PSAs you can use. There is also a recorded webinar you can listen to, and be sure to read the comments in the chat box for even more ideas – you can skip right to the 26 minute mark to read the transcript of the brainstorming session. The Peanuts Movie comes out in early November, so this is perfectly timed to capitalize on all the Snoopy movie marketing as well! Remember, this is the time to get out of the library and into the community so that community members who aren’t already visiting the library will stop by to see what you offer.
How do you celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month? How is your library “cooler than cool”? Share your ideas and strategies for a successful campaign!