Public Libraries Go Big with Community Outreach

Many Americans take for granted the ability to read and the easy access to books. That’s because public libraries continue to lead the way to help foster a reading culture and love of books in local communities nationwide.  Programs being implemented by public libraries are not only inspiring but have changed people’s lives for the better.  Let’s take a look at a few success stories around the country.

Bulk Books Bolster Library Programs & Events

Many Americans take for granted the ability to read and the easy access to books. That’s because public libraries continue to lead the way to help foster a reading culture and love of books in local communities nationwide. Programs being implemented by public libraries are not only inspiring but have changed people’s lives for the better. Let’s take a look at a few success stories around the country.

“One Book, One City” is a literacy program created by the Judy B. McDonald Public Library in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Nacogdoches Public Library began their reading program in Summer 2017 by purchasing 400 copies of True Grit by Charles Portis, according to Crystal Hicks, Assistant Library Director. The program was such a hit that when the One Book, One City was planned for 2018, the library applied for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA Big Read) reading program grant…and was chosen as a recipient.

As a result of the NEA grant and the introduction to a new book supplier, Bulk Bookstore, the number of books in the One Book, One City program tripled from 400 to more than 1,200. Since Bulk Bookstore specializes in orders of 25 copies or more with prices up to 55 percent off retail, Nacogdoches Public Library was able to considerably stretch their budget to buy even more books to expand the reach of the program.

As Hicks explains, the literacy program really took off in its second year with the book selection of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. “We delivered the books all over the community. They were brought to the local schools and were available at the library for anyone who was interested. We encouraged readers to keep passing the books along so even more people could be included.”

According to Hicks, the library saw an increase in library card applications, particularly from the students at the high schools that participated in the program. The library staff encouraged this growth by allowing the students to sign up right at the schools, and the library cards were delivered to all that were interested.

Another library program that was designed to bring an entire community together through the reading and discussion of a common book was “O-Town Reads,” founded by the Ottawa Library in Ottawa, Kansas in 2016. According to Cyndi Brewer, Manager of the Youth Services Department, the Ottawa Library has been ordering a different book title each year, doing their best to get books into the hands of as many readers as possible.

Developed through a collaboration between the library staff and local school district, the impact O-Town Reads has made on the city’s populace is remarkable. Brewer explains that each year, conversations are being sparked in the community around the chosen book. People are thinking differently and reading books they might never read on their own. Neighbors, local businesses, schools, parents and children are all reading the same book, sharing the love for reading, and talking about some very difficult topics.

Brewer elaborated: “We don’t restrict on the type of books each year. We try to offer a variety of topics that are pertinent to our entire community, can be read by all ages and, hopefully, make an impact.” The program is continuing to grow and along with it, so is the library membership. Since the launch of O’Town Reads, Ottawa Library has seen a rise in both library card applications and overall circulation.

Book programs continue to be introduced in 2019. Guilderland Public Library in Guilderland, NY recently announced a brand new initiative called “The Welcome Baby project.” The library plans to provide “Welcome Baby” tote bags to the parents of babies born in the community throughout the year to let them know the Library is a safe and welcoming place for moms, dads and their little ones.

According to Beth Rienti, Department Head of Youth Program & Services, each bag will contain a book, puppet, shaker egg, pacifier, and information about playing with and reading to babies. Information about library programs for babies and caregivers will also be provided. “We hope the bags will assist parents and caregivers in starting out on a lifelong path of reading and learning together,” said Rienti. “We are especially excited to find Bulk Bookstore, as it made purchasing quality board books for the program much easier using the funding we received from our local NBT Bank.”

Different from other online retailers and traditional book stores who are efficient sellers of individual copies of books, Bulk Bookstore specializes in discounting and delivering books in bulk quantities, starting at 25 copies per title. “Working closely with the amazing people at public libraries and other non-profits makes what we do extremely meaningful,” said Mike Williams, Sales Director for Bulk Bookstore. “Thousands of literacy supporting organizations currently purchase books in bulk from us, and we are thrilled to play a small part in the success of these important programs.”

Library and community program directors who run literacy programs are encouraged to
shop online for the books they need or contact a Book Specialist at 877-855-5956 to learn more about the benefits of buying books in bulk.
 

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