Greetings from Ferguson, Missouri!
This year has been difficult for many of us as we struggle to move on from Covid and deal with increasing costs. But it has also been a year of meaningful, direct help for the people who need it most. That’s what libraries do. Every library, including your local library, brings stability to help their communities through hard times, and we have been fortunate enough to have great staff members who are willing to step up and do more for our community.
We are focused this year on removing barriers: barriers of time, skill, cost, and lack of opportunity. We’ve focused on reducing patron expenses to zero. We’ve removed overdue fines, so that a few dollars won’t prevent someone from getting a book they love. We’ve also made faxes, printing, and copies free. Removing the cost for these services enables people to access desperately needed assistance. Government and community agencies might require 50 pages of documents for rent relief or unemployment assistance. Copy centers often charge a per page fee to fax documents, putting someone already struggling in a terrible bind. We felt it was the right thing to absorb those costs and help provide services to those who can afford it least.
Another area of focus has been doing our best to bridge the digital divide. We continue to offer free PC and Wi-Fi use, including training and assistance to those who need help accessing new technologies. We’ve also made exciting moves to provide internet access outside of our building, like hotspots for patrons who don’t have internet access at home, and a school hotspot program where students and teachers can check out a hotspot for the entire semester. We make sure all our digital services will work on cheap phones. We find any path we can to meet our people where they live and help them however they work – concrete, practical ways to help our community get online and get work done in their own homes, schools, and parks.
We’ve brought in organizations to help with rent relief and heating costs, and even healthcare outreach. We’ve reinvigorated job search and employment assistance. Story times, book clubs, and many classes are hybrid so anyone can attend either in person or remotely. We have continued our curbside service, which can be a huge help for folks with disabilities, people with small children, or just folks in a hurry. We also continue to reach outside the building with our take-home family craft kits, reaching dozens of families every week.
We make sure that we have a diverse collection that serves the needs of everyone in our community. The recent book banning movements that have been sweeping across the nation have reminded us – rededicated us – to serve every member of our community. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the books that they read.
As director, I try to empower staff members to use their own passions in ways that help our patrons. That means we’re always doing more than I can put in a letter. We constantly push into the community, reaching people who’ve not been reached before. And of course, all this takes money. We count every penny, and use it for the materials, technology, and qualified staff to engage our community. Libraries are force multipliers for communities, helping our communities build cohesion, diversity, and skill sets. Every community is stronger for its local library.
We hope you are staying safe, and getting any and all the help you need. Give your time when you can, let others lean on you, and allow yourself to lean on others. We will get through this. Until then, our little library will continue being as open as we can, and doing as much as we possibly can.
Please support your local library. And, if you want to help us again, please drop by http://tinyurl.com/FMPLDonation and donate! We promise to use your donations effectively.
As always, THANK YOU!
Scott Bonner, Director
Ferguson Municipal Public Library District
35 N Florissant Rd, Ferguson, MO 63135
The Ferguson Municipal Public Library District (43-0899661) is registered (per a Section 218 agreement) as a state or local government agency. We are tax deductible under this 170(c)(1) designation, for political subdivisions. Our type of organization is listed specifically in Publication 526 Charitable Contributions, as being tax deductible as long as the donation is being used for a public purpose, and we use all donation money to serve the public.