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How Service Organizations Can Assist Libraries

Moderator Yolanda Cuesta (left) and panelists (L-R) Coleman, Fullum Stovall, Brey-Casiano, and Ford explained how their service clubs work and how they can help libraries by providing support, manpower, and money.

Moderator Yolanda Cuesta (left) and panelists (L-R) Coleman, Fullum Stovall, Brey-Casiano, and Ford explained how their service clubs work and how they can help libraries by providing support, manpower, and money.

I was especially interested in the session titled Partnering With Service Organizations, since I give talks about community partnerships. This LLAMA PRMS session revealed some of the inner workings of service organizations and how they can help to fund and / or complete library projects.

The panel of four speakers each talked about an organization she belongs to, and each provided a handout of org info.

Carol Brey-Casiano talked about Rotary International, the world’s first service club, which boasts more than 1.2 million members worldwide. Its mission to serve others, to promote “high ethical standards,” and to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace, has a lot in common with the values of librarians, Brey-Casiano said. She also stressed its international reach and told listeners how it helped her learn valuable leadership skills.

Melody Coleman discussed her activities with the Lions Club and explained that while the Lions engage in a number of service activities, it focuses on helping those who have trouble with their eyesight. The fact that it helps pay for eye exams and glasses ties in with libraries’ literacy efforts – once a person can see, he or she can read. Lions have also funded large-print and Braille collections.

Sylverna Ford explained that the Kiwanis Club’s mission centers around enhancing communities by enhancing the lives of children. She said that the club’s weekly meetings give her great access to community leaders.

Pamela Fullum Stovall educated the audience about Altrusa, which began largely to help build the professional lives of women but now also focuses a lot on literacy, making it a natural partner for libraries. Altrusa often helps raise money and donate books for libraries.

Panel moderator Yolanda Cuesta talked briefly about Soroptimist International, which supports the needs of women and children.

All speakers agreed that their groups existed to help serve and fund local needs, and that the proposed projects do not always have to be strongly related to the organizations’ specialties. It’s smart to use your strategic plan to decide which organizations would be right to help you meet your goals.  The process of applying for funds from these groups is much less tedious and formal than those necessary to apply for many corporate or national grants. And they offer more than funding — members often volunteer their time for chosen service projects as well. And while all the panelists emphasized that you do not have to be a member to approach the groups for assistance, it sure doesn’t hurt. Finally, it’s very worthwhile to be a member, not only to have the camaraderie of local movers and shakers, but also to have their support and understanding, and to grow from the experience of belonging.

~Kathy Dempsey

editor, Marketing Library Services newsletter

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