Being part of the community
Two years ago, the Evans Library embarked on a journey that sought to bring additional library and college resources to the FM community.
Through the American Library Association and FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) smart investing @ your library® grant, the library was able to devote personnel and other resources, as well as to acquire marketing and promotional materials, to create the $mart Money site (smartmoney.fmcc.edu) which provides personal finance information geared towards high school and college students.
In addition to the website, the library developed programming for workshops to present information to students about saving, budgeting, credit, debt, and investing.
Throughout the course of the grant over 100 students participated in a $mart Money session or an online activity. Over 60 percent of this population indicated that they intended on taking action of some sort to improve their personal financial situation. The $mart Money website had over 1,100 total views with 800 individuals accessing the site.
While the college-based workshops have enjoyed some success and will continue to be offered at pivotal times throughout the semester — (November is Information Literacy Month and April is National Financial Literacy Month — perfect times for sessions on managing money), the most exciting aspect of the project has been the opportunity to work with community libraries.
In the original grant proposal, the public and high school libraries of Amsterdam, Gloversville, and Johnstown were included as target audiences. These librarians (and, in the case of the schools, guidance counselors and consumer math teachers) were given information on the new money website as well as offered college expertise (i.e. the business faculty) for presentations to students. In addition to the online resources, several books targeted to college and high school students were donated for use by library patrons.
However, as work continued with the original six partner libraries, it became clear that this limited contact did not go far enough in fulfilling the intent of the grant, and the library and colleges’ mission, to serve the community. A request was made which was ultimately approved: to expand the scope of the grant to public libraries in the Mohawk Valley Library System and to school library media centers which are part of the HFM BOCES School Library System. Through this expanded partnership, libraries throughout Fulton, Montgomery, Hamilton, and Schoharie counties were visited. The public libraries included Northville Public Library, Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery, Margaret Reaney Memorial Library (St. Johnsville), Frothingham Free Library (Fonda), Lake Pleasant Public Library, and, the smallest library in the system, Fort Hunter Free Library.
The high schools included Broadalbin Perth, Fonda-Fultonville, Mayfield, Northville, and Wells. Upcoming visits are planned for the Fort Plain, Sharon Springs, Cobleskill-Richmondville, and Middleburgh libraries as well as the media centers in Canajoharie and Oppenheim-Ephratah-St Johnsville.
This project expansion provides a unique opportunity to the Evans Library to participate in the communities’ education in a significant, direct, and lasting way. And we hope and believe that this is only the first of many such partnerships that can serve to enrich the lives of the communities which we all serve.
Mary Donohue is professor and library director at FM.