Impact and Programs
In 2017, Ramsey County Library received more than $174,000 from the Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries. These grants supported vital learning programs for children, teens, and adults. They also supported staff training, volunteer recognition, communications and outreach materials, and enhanced collections and amenities. These funds helped to advance the Library’s strategic priorities and deliver excellence service with limited resources.
This grant supported program expenses and book prizes for attendees at the 2017 Kindergarten Sign-Up party with author and illustrator Grace Lin. The Library processed 1,550 applications and distributed 329 library cards at the event. This grant also provided supplies used in story times and other early literacy activities. Examples include: supplies for the Toddler Obstacle Course, LEGO Builder’s Club, Yoga Storytimes, Baby Storytime toys, passive programming, supplies for the Smart Play Spot at the Maplewood Library, and puzzles, puppets, other interactives in the children’s spaces at all branches.
Research shows the need to provide teens with safe, positive learning environments after school. This grant enhanced teen programs that served nearly 20,000 participants in 2017. Funding allowed librarians to provide teens with pizza, granola bars and fruit to build relationships and focus their attention in 1,616 after school programs, classes, book clubs, tours and camps. This grant also supported a weekly teen makerspace, The Brain Box, at Maplewood, Shoreview and Roseville. In 2017, 1,387 teens explored STEAM projects through hands-on learning at 154 Brain Box makerspaces. Friends funding supported the purchase of supplies, including craft sticks, candy melts and apples, shaving cream, borax, glue and food dye, batteries, copper tape, vinyl, shrinkable polymers, and the many other things needed to keep our programming running year round.
Summer Reading Program
The Summer Reading Program increases students’ reading abilities, their time with books, their enjoyment of reading, and parental involvement in children’s reading. This grant supported the Summer Reading Program kickoff and prize books. Books were given to over 3,500 preschool and school-aged participants in 2017. Funding also supported the Teen Summer Reading Program. In 2017, the teen program hosted 21 book clubs, as well as three week-long Teen Tech Camps, and a number of other events. Teens submitted almost 5,300 book reviews, and prizes were given to all 1,062 teens who participated. Funding also supported programs such as the Story Trail partnership with Parks & Recreation, books for participants in our summer book clubs, and other supplies and programs.
Technology Literacy / Life Skills
This grant provided innovative digital literacy programs for our community. In 2017, Ramsey County Library provided 117 computer and technology classes that served 889 students. They also offered 322 drop-in computer and tech help labs with staff providing one-to-one technology help for 1,493 patrons. In 2017, the Library expanded its digital literacy offerings beyond the Library walls—providing technology classes to new immigrants at the Fairview Community Center in Roseville and to ex-offenders at the Volunteers of America corrections facility. This grant paid for teachers and curriculum from the Science Museum of Minnesota and supported substitute staffing to enable librarians to teach classes. Course examples included “Microsoft Word Basics,” “Excel Basics,” “Using the Cloud,” “E-books and E-Readers,” “3D Printing and Design,” “Social Media,” and “Genealogy and the Web.”
This grant also supported coffee and refreshments at the Community Resource Advocates programs held weekly at Roseville and Maplewood Libraries. At these programs, the Library hosted social workers and other community service providers who connected patrons to help with housing, shelter, benefits, mental health resources, and more. This program helped people experiencing homelessness transition to being housed, and it has helped many other patrons manage crisis situations.
Racial Equity Programming
While Legacy funding has enabled the Library to produce arts, cultural, and history programs, this funding source cannot be used for programs outside of those categories. The Friends grant for racial equity programming supported 13 programs in 2017—with a total attendance of 745.
In March 2017, the film, Race: The Power of an Illusion, was presented at the Roseville Library followed by discussion. This three-part series was facilitated by Donald Eubanks of Metropolitan State University and presented in partnership with the City of Roseville, Roseville Human Rights Commission and the Shoreview Human rights Commission.
In June, July and August 2017, the Green Card Voices exhibit of immigrant stories was presented at Maplewood, Roseville and Shoreview Libraries and included a facilitated panel discussion at each site with immigrants from the project.
Ramsey County Library also developed a partnership with Do Good Roseville, collaborating to bring the Ask series to the Roseville Library. This included Ask a Muslim Woman (140+ attendees, standing room only!), Ask a Community Youth, Ask a Veteran, and Ask a Dreamer (featured on a KSTP program). One of the Muslim women on our first Ask panel (Huda Yusuf) initiated a social justice book club, the Hard Truths Book Club, at Roseville. With the Friends funds, the Library was able to pay for copies of essays from the book A Good Time for the Truth and establish connections with a number of amazing local authors. In November and December 2017, they presented Confronting Racism: Minnesota Style by the YWCA Minneapolis at both Roseville (180+ attendees) and Maplewood.
Friends funding supported the summer, 2017 pilot of the Popup Library, which visited 10 venues reaching 1,040 community members. Ramsey County Library launched the Popup to engage underserved communities. They visited the Ramsey County Fair, a residential re-entry center for individuals transitioning from corrections, the Fairview Community Center, farmers’ markets, Keller Park, and other sites. At Popup events, they offered library card registration, a small collection available for browsing and checkout, children’s programs, laptop and database instruction, and free Wi-Fi. The Friends grant supported the purchase of essential infrastructure, including a branded canopy, tables, tablecloths, and display racks. It also supported banner signs, equipment, a button-maker and giveaways, including tote bags and pencils. Following this pilot, the Library applied for and received a $40,000 LSTA grant from the Minnesota Department of Education to expand the Popup Library in 2018.
The Friends support $6,000 of the $17,500 printing budget for Explore, the Library newsletter. This publication is great exposure for the Library and the Friends, and it exemplifies our strong partnership.
The Library benefits from the services of dedicated, trained volunteers who work in each library. In 2017, volunteers gave 14,657 hours of time. The Friends grant supported food, décor, and floral gifts for annual volunteer recognition events. These events are an important way for the Library to nurture positive relationships with our generous volunteers, many of whom have served for several years. Friends funding also supports Petco gift cards that we provide to Paws to Read volunteers.
This grant was used to purchase two custom-built displayers for the Mounds View Library. The displayers showcase new books, rental collections, and Spanish language materials.
Though the Library has taken steps to reduce collections costs by moving to a single e-book platform, they have had a limited budget for e-books relative to patron interest. This grant was used to purchase additional adult, teen, and juvenile CloudLibrary e-books. E-books are a heavily used collection, and the extra funds helped to improve the variety and availability of titles.
This grant supported two In-Service Days, which are the Library’s primary method of providing all-staff training. On these days, all branches are closed so that staff can receive training to support strategic initiatives. 109 staff attended the spring, 2017 In-Service Day; 113 staff attended the fall, 2017 training day. Funding supported modest honoraria for outside speakers and morning refreshments and lunch for participants.
Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries—2018 Goals
Goal #1: Support Library Programs for Lifelong Learning in Diverse Communities
Goal #2: Advocate for Library Support
Goal #3 Expand Friends Community Engagement
Goal#4: Build Organizational and Financial Capacity
Community or Constituency Served
People of all ages living or working in suburban Ramsey County, portions of St. Paul, and portions of Anoka, Washington, Hennepin, and Dakota Counties.
Geographic Area Served
Suburban Ramsey County, portions of St. Paul, and portions of Anoka, Washington, Hennepin, and Dakota Counties.