Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wisconsin Public Library/Community Partnerships

Many thanks to Tom, Nick, Mary, Ellen,and Jane for sharing these great examples.

Shared by Tom Carson
Head of Reference Services
Kenosha Public Library

The Kenosha Public Library has developed many community partnerships with local organizations. For example, the Kenosha Literacy Council is located in the Uptown Branch and a few KPL staff members serve on their Board.

However, I am really proud of the relationship with Lemon Street Gallery. The relationship started with our first Big Read grant. We asked them if they wanted to participate and they enthusiastically said, yes! The artists at Lemon Street Gallery created works of art based on the themes of the The Grapes of Wrath. We displayed the works in our libraries and at other Big Read programs. The partnership was advertised in all Big Read publicity and Lemon Street promoted the program on their website, Facebook page and newsletter. We received nothing but positive responses. Some works of art were sold and others were donated to the library.

The enthusiasm and creativity of gallery director Melanie Hovey was a real inspiration during the Big Read process. The relationship expanded when Melanie talked our library director into letting her display works of art from Lemon Street artists in our buildings. The library receives new art on a quarterly basis.

Our first Big Read was such a success that we decided to do it again. Lemon Street artists came through and created beautiful works of art. The Big Read and the NEA were so impressed about our collaboration that we made it on to the Big Read blog.  In addition, we got a brief mention in 2013 Guide for the National Endowment for the Arts, page 12. We are waiting to hear from The Big Read on whether or not we will receive another grant this year. We have chosen the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Lemon Street artists are ready to show off their amazing skills. The Big Read program is an excellent way to build successful partnerships

Shared by Nick Demske
Circulation and Programming Assistant

The one that stands out most for me is the BONK! performance series I run.

BONK! was started 4 and a half years ago independently by myself and 2 other poets in Racine. Because I work at the public library here, we worked out a sponsorship from them through various things, mostly just the ability for me to work for it on work time.  We have a team of 4 volunteers who do things like record, process and upload video of the events, set up sound equipment (which they own and generously allow us to use every month), do our Facebook page responsibilities, send out news releases, operate our blog and listserv. They're incredibly helpful.

We also promote through fliers and I've written a grant for us to have them designed by a local artist. The community partnerships we've made, aside from the individual volunteers I mentioned above, include two restaurants who comp food for me and our performers--one for dinner the night of the performance and one for breakfast the next day, if anyone sleeps over. We come as a big group when we bring the performers out to eat (audience members, etc), so the restaurants make their money back and then some immediately, not to mention all the promotion we include them on (logos or names on our fliers, blogs, Facebook posts, etc). We're also supported by a local family foundation put together by an artist and her husband--they basically financially support me to continue in ways that allow me to pay for random things like going to literary conferences (conference fee, food, travel, lodging...the whole bit) or going to a show to vet some musicians for the series, covering costs of any business lunch I might have...things like that.

The Urban League of Racine and Kenosha is our fiscal receiver, though that's pretty much all they do for that--they're rather hands off. I've made a relationship with the Friends of the Library where they are now in their third year of supporting us with grants for honoraria for the performers and money to purchase the books and records that the performers are producing, etc. And, also, a local organization call the Racine Arts Council provides us with their venue for the event and also has given us grants (that I obviously had to apply for)--most recently for the poster design and listserv fee.

The library itself supports the program in several ways, the biggest of which is just having it included as part of my work hours. But we print our fliers off on the library's printer, which is about a $50-$75 cost each month.

If I had to come up with reasons for BONK!'s success, I guess it will be sort of tooting my own horn but, basically, I feel that with programs like these the most essential thing you need is a central figurehead who is incredibly passionate--even in the face of adversity--about what the program is providing, who is willing to become a leader in the microcommunity (in this case, the arts community or, even more specifically, the literary community here...practically building one where there was none, nearly, but not quite) as well as the larger community in general. This is true for the success of much of my programming.

Shared by Mary Dunn, Director, Tomahawk Public Library

We just had a wonderful, well received program that we offered here at the library covering Genealogy databases. The partnership was with our local Tomahawk Area Historical Society. They took care of all the promotion and publicity - local radio station, posters up around town and submitted info to the local newspaper - which featured our program info on the front page! Our techy placed the info on our webpage.  

This was basically a fun, informational program.   It all started when a member of the local Historical Society approached me and asked if I would be willing to give a "short" program covering electronic databases - they were especially interested in     Our library system has a subscription to Ancestry - the library edition - which is available only through the system libraries - at our public access Internet Stations.

I kept the program to 1 hour and stopped frequently to answer any questions after each discussion point. Also in the audience were genealogy users who also offered hints and tips. I started the program with a disclaimer - I am not a Genealogy expert, but I was very excited to show them how to navigate Ancestry.

My program also covered databases found in BadgerLink: Heritage Quest and Newspaper Archives (But I also briefly showed them other features in BadgerLink) - only 2 in the audience were familiar with BadgerLink! So just showing them that database was a big hit! I also discussed the Mormon site ( unfortunately I was informed by an audience participant that there now can be charges affiliated with research from the site). I discussed the Genealogy info available through the Wisconsin Historical Society site - and mentioned the Genealogy classes, workshops and webinars also available.

I also discussed the webinars available through ProQuest and briefly mentioned the National Archives website (because I was running out of time!). I also mentioned the Lincoln County protocols that have been newly implemented at the County Clerk's office. And of course I had handouts! Most of those in attendance were beginners and they really appreciated having the handouts. We have a big screen TV that we use now for programming of this nature. I hook my laptop into the TV so the audience gets to see/view the info on a big screen TV. My laptop was also connected to our LAN line so I could show them the Ancestry site.

The members from the Tomahawk Historical Society brought cookies and the library supplied the coffee, etc. We had 30 in attendance which is a great turnout for us this time of year. We offered the program at 1:30 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon.

Shared by Ellen Connor, Director
Sturm Memorial Library, Manawa

One thing Sturm Memorial Library started for National Library Week was to get businesses to sponsor stadium cushions that we pass out at a football game in September. We don't do it every year because we would reach a saturation point to soon but the plan is to do it every other year.

We ask two businesses and if they agree they provide us with a logo and those logo's and the library's logo get placed on one side of the cushions. On the other side is the Manawa Wolves logo. Then we get the word out that if you show your card on entry to the game you get a seat cushion. It is a lot of fun and people love it.

We also pass out registration cards with a miniature candy bar stapled to it and tell people that don't have a card to get one so they can get a seat cushion when we do it again. We do get people coming in ahead of time to get signed up for a card so they can get a cushion.

We will be doing it again this fall. Each business contributed $250.00 I believe. I do all of the coordinating, ordering the seat cushions, getting the logo, etc. We put articles in the newspaper, get posters made and put around town, and pass flyers out at the grocery store and city hall. We have oversize infosoup cards that we have with us at the stadium entrance.

It's just fun fun fun.

Sidebar:  A lot of colorful goings-on at Sturm's Facebook page!

Shared by Jane Henze, Adult Services
DeForest Area Public Library

Our library has a great relationship with several organizations and businesses in our area for programming and financial support. The one that first comes to mind is with our Community & Senior Center and our local Historical Society.

Once a month I hold a book club discussion at the Center. I also have a monthly outreach program at the Center. Both events are open to the public, but seniors are especially encouraged to attend. This year, three of the programs have a historical theme to them -- a historical impersonator, a program on the history of aprons and a Buster Keaton silent film with live music and the history of silent films. The Center, the Library and the Historical Society are sharing the costs of these three events.

I do the bulk of the publicity, but the other two post the flyers I make and include the info in their newsletters. Supporters from all three organizations attend the events. We've all contributed ideas for programs over the years.

Each of us benefits. We are able to provide more quality programs and reduce our costs by sharing the payments. Each of us is committed to providing these type of events and by working together we decrease the workload.

We've also partnered with others in our community on programming topics for library events - a bank, eye doctor, karate school, chiropractor, police department, beautician, pharmacist, vet clinic, schools, bakery, musician, dance instructor, care facility manager and others.

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