Screenshot of the Library Foundation website
Given the number of bookstores shelving business these days, the fate of the printed word appears to be in a precarious state. Some doomsayers would even say the destiny of one of mankind’s greatest inventions is on a slippery slope towards demise. Despite our current recession within this era of fast lifestyles, small attention spans, and mobile technology, there are institutions progressing with the times and stand proud, staring that “demise” down with a look of defiance. Where, you must be asking yourself, do these heroes of literary salvation reside? You need only look down the road to your local library. And, here in Louisville, we happen to have a library that is a card-carrying member of “The Justice League.”
Who Are They and What Do They Do?
The Louisville Free Public Library was established in 1870 when a group of progressive individuals decided to create a public institution for information and enjoyment where anyone could borrow books free of charge. To maintain such long and successful existence is only possible with the contributions from countless individuals and organizations. Enter the Library Foundation.
The Library Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization governed by an independent volunteer board of directors, was established in 1980 to benefit, promote, support, encourage, and enhance the programs and services of the Louisville Free Public Library. They solicit, receive, and acquire donations of public or private funds on behalf of the Louisville Free Public Library and serve as the fiscal agent on behalf of the library for grants and donations.
As public libraries are increasingly constrained by municipal budgets, private funding for public libraries is critically important, as it helps to:
- result in change, making possible experimentation, innovation, and adaptation of roles to changing needs;
- provide the margin of excellence that makes good libraries great libraries;
- provide the opportunity to leverage public dollars;
- spur collaborations and partnerships; and
- create a higher level of responsiveness to needs and opportunities.
Through private donations to the Library Foundation, the Louisville Free Public Library has been able to provide programs and services and to pursue capital projects that would not be possible otherwise. Private funding is responsible for:
- the Iroquois Project, an outreach program targeted to the immigrant community in South Louisville;
- the Digital Media Initiative, providing the library with thousands of CDs, DVDs, and audiobooks;
- the Technology 2000 campaign, providing the library with hundreds of public-access computers, software, and electronic research tools;
- the Job Shop, offering a wide range of resources to help unemployed or under-employed people find work;
- the Summer Reading program, the library’s largest and longest-running program, reaching more than 50,000 annually;
- upgraded furnishings and technology for the new Newburg branch library;
- restoration and renovation of the historic Main Library, which made possible highly successful partnerships with JCPS adult education and the University of Louisville;
- scholarships for library employees; and
- supplemental funding for the cost of taking the GED.
Operating within a governmental context can be slow and cumbersome – and usually is. Private gifts to the Library Foundation enable the library to be “nimble,” to take advantage of strategic opportunities as they arise, whether expected or unexpected. Government is risk-averse and generally preserves the status quo. Private funding allows library leadership to be bold and responsive and to pursue experimentation and change.
How Mission Data Helped
Looking to further explore avenues of growth and change while creating a stronger community, one that creates name and face relationships (not just between patrons and the library, but with other patrons as well), the Library Foundation came to Mission Data with an expanded vision and a consistently high level of enthusiasm to help their community succeed in its endeavors.
As evidenced by the aftermath from a sudden flash flood in 2009, and the subsequent outpouring of local support and sentiment, there’s a personal interest for the many patrons who fill the library day in and day out in maintaining and improving its facilities, offerings, and events through contributions. The direct result for them? Visible, physical, and participatory returns on their investment – something that many donors in other capacities may not see. Their donations personally affect a positive outcome and they are, ultimately, doing something good through their donations.
The Library Foundation’s level of commitment and enthusiasm for their cause is infectious, and we were no exception. Focused on creating a sustained audience reach and engagement level, Mission Data’s designer and developers worked in-tandem to take on the challenges ahead while taking on the Library Foundation’s cause as their own! Go to the Library Foundation’s site now and you’ll see the result of various discussions between the designer, developers and client to create a more interactive and information-rich Library Foundation web presence and utilization of the social web. The site’s design is based almost entirely on that which has so strongly defined the library since its inception: being about and for the people. Where once was a site that existed strictly “for informational purposes only” now stands an online avenue for event promotion and registration, news promotion, online donation collection, and continuously-evolving social interaction. The ongoing results of our coordinated efforts will lead to increased donations, increased community interest and engagement, and, ultimately, continuously-improving offerings and services that last well into the future.
In a time when we ARE experiencing an economic downturn and hardships, libraries are actually SPURRING economic investment thanks to available resources, helping people find jobs, and providing budget-friendly education and entertainment options for individuals and families where many places are not. So, to the doomsayers out there, the Library Foundation has something to say to you. When the dust clears, it may be the book worms that fare the best of all.
For more information, visit the Library Foundation or contact them online, by phone (502-574-1654) or by
fax (502-574-1734). And, if you’re feeling especially generous, please take a moment to read this article and then donate to, what we feel, is one of the best types of causes.