Greetings! We’ve been growing and changing here at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library. You may be interested in the State of The Library document I wrote for our Board, where I tried to capture these astonishing last few years. Meanwhile, YOU are due for an update!
It has been 4 years since Ferguson was roiled in controversy as the nation challenged its thinking on race relations. Our response at the time was to do what libraries do – step up, work harder, throw open our doors. We’re a little library, independent, but we were determined to be the Little Library That Could. So, we did. With the donations we received in 2014 and since, YOUR donations, we have been able to blossom, radically expanding our reach and impact on the daily lives of the people Ferguson, doing the good that libraries do, finding new ways to be useful and inviting. This last April, we were able to turn that new, dynamic mode of operation into a permanent opportunity, when the people of Ferguson voted to increase our base funding. Your donations allowed us to operate like a better-funded library than we were. We were then able to prove ourselves to our people, and now we ARE a better-funded library than we were!
That means we’ve been able to make deeper, more structural changes over the past few months, building more capacity to do good. Libraries are made of two things – people, and stuff. We are finally able to build permanent capacity in our staffing. We’ve brought on new people. We’ve asked more of the people we have. We hired an Adult Services Librarian with a mandate to help the people of Ferguson get jobs, learn new skills, and become entrepreneurs. We are more consistent and resilient, better prepared to help our community now than ever before. This new staffing also meant we could do more with the stuff of libraries. We have more expertise to wield as we increase the quality and quantity of our books and movies. We’ve also added more databases, more digital materials, and more capacity to cross the digital divide. We are far more responsive to our patrons’ needs.
We are going green; right now we are in the middle of projects to move to LED lighting, move to ultra-high efficiency heating and cooling, and more projects are planned. These projects will decrease our carbon footprint by half, and make the library even more efficient in its use of taxpayer dollars and donations.
Services, however, have become core to our identity as a library. Libraries are the ladders America has built to help its people out of poverty and need. Every month, we make a bulleted list of the programs we have done recently and are about to do. This month, that bulleted list of programs was 3 times as long! That’s normal for us now. We do a lot with what we’ve got.
We’ve made huge improvements in our reach into the parts of Ferguson that are struggling the most, including multiple programs in the West Florissant/Canfield Greene area. We help our people improve their own literacy, job skills, and ability to create new opportunities for growth. We have created outbound services for folks who can’t easily leave their homes, outreach to our older population, and storytimes in local school classrooms. We have continued the First Lego League to make new scientists and technicians. We have started resume help and computer instruction to make new employed citizens. We have created targeted literacy events to make new readers. It’s fun, and exciting! But it’s also impactful, changing lives one person at a time, opening up opportunities.
Building up Ferguson is right there at the core of our mission, along with lifelong learning and cultural literacy. We’ve all seen how vital and important Ferguson is, how much the people here care for each other. At the library, we want to be right in the middle of it. With programs like the Readings on Race book club and our latest efforts to help the folks in Ferguson who need us most, we are not just building community, but working to make it better, fairer, more welcoming, and kinder.
I hope you have the means and desire to help us again. If so, please go to http://tinyurl.com/FMPLDonation and do so. We appreciate every penny, for the opportunity it brings to do more good work. We strive to be proof positive that, as long as communities care about lifelong learning, cultural literacy, and building community, libraries will be vital, both to our communities and to democracy.
As always, THANK YOU!
Scott Bonner, Director
Ferguson Municipal Public Library District
@fergusonlibrary on Twitter
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.