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Buy-A-Book: Book Emergency Campaign

Queens Library

Innovation Leader: Diana Chapin, Executive Director, Queens Library Foundation, Diana.chapin@queenslibraryfoundation.org

Problem Statement

Queens Library users depend their library for the most up-to-date collections of books, DVD’s, CD’s and other materials. But with ongoing deep budget cuts, funds to provide books are at the lowest level, ever. Our libraries no longer have the latest books and other materials to meet the needs of their patrons. Customers are experiencing longer waiting times to obtain popular selections, or find that books and materials aren’t even available. As a result, Queens Library is facing a “Book Emergency” and must find new sources of funding to obtain current books and materials.

Innovation

Queens Library Foundation’s (QLF) Buy-A-Book (BAB) program has been successfully raising funds since 1992 to acquire new books for Queens Library. In that time, thousands of gifts totaling more then $4.6 million have been made. For each donation of $25, a commemorative bookplate is placed in a new book at the community library of the donor’s choice. Gifts of $500 or more are also acknowledged with a plaque in the stacks. BAB donors make gifts to honor or memorialize family and friends, and commemorate special events such as anniversaries and birthdays. Beginning in December, 2010 QLF partnered for the first time with volunteer Friends of Queens Library groups on a “Book Emergency” Campaign. Friends groups in libraries throughout Queens took the message of need to local businesses, enlisting their involvement and support for the BAB program. Friends received: Introduction Letters; Queens Library “Book Emergency” Table Signs/Envelope Holders; Buy-A-Book donation envelopes; and “Supporter of Buy-A-Book” Decals. They asked local businesses to: contribute to BAB; place a table sign on the counter stocked with BAB envelopes; encourage customers to support Queens Library, and place a decal in their store window or door proclaiming their support for BAB. As further incentive, Friends groups received matching funds from QLF for the donations they obtained. Until the institution of this campaign, QLF and the Friends worked independently. This innovative effort is an example of tapping local talent and energy on the grassroots level, resulting in new degrees of cooperation. This campaign in partnership with existing Friends groups has inspired additional community libraries to start their own Friends groups.

Progress

To date, nearly 100 businesses throughout Queens display Queens Library “Book Emergency” table signs, Buy-A-Book envelopes and decals, resulting in donations of more than $31,000 for new library books and materials, The program has become so popular that QLF donors and library staff have initiated their own campaigns, the New York City Council has started its own “Friends” group, and New York State officials have pledged member items in support of the “Book Emergency”.