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Support our Shelves

Brooklyn Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Shannon Snead, s.snead@brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Problem Statement

Raise much needed funds and advocacy efforts from community members to support all 60 Brooklyn Public Library locations.

Innovation

In March 2009, Brooklyn Public Library launched a new four month community campaign Support Our Shelves (SOS) organized around the theme “Proud to be Shelf-ish” with the following goals:
  • raise at least $300,000 to purchase library materials (books, DVDs, CDs and electronic resources) for all 60 BPL locations and to provide funds for cultural and educational programs that were at-risk from looming City and State budget cuts;
  • encourage BPL patrons to let their elected officials know that BPL is a community priority; and
  • encourage community members to register for a library card and use their neighborhood libraries.

Our goal was to engender broad community participation as we encouraged each neighborhood library to meet a designated goal with “adopters” helping to champion local fundraising efforts.

The SOS campaign was promoted through a press kick-off event that was widely attended by local elected officials as well as corporate and foundation supporters. We also distributed campaign materials - posters, flyers and buttons at all BPL locations along with return-reply envelopes which were given to patrons as they checked out library materials. The SOS campaign was also prominently featured in our quarterly Calendar of Events, e-newsletters, Web 2.0 vehicles such as Facebook, Twitter and BPL blogs as well as on BPL’s website.

Progress

The 2009 SOS campaign (March 1- June 30) surpassed its original $300,000 goal, generating more than 3,000 gifts—of which 80% represented first-time contributions to BPL—and raising more than $315,000 in support. As a result, BPL was able to purchase 27,617 new books, DVDs and CDs. The 2009 SOS campaign received leadership gifts from Brooklyn Community Foundation, Citi Foundation, Con Edison, Durst Organization, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and 27 BPL trustees. In addition to leadership gifts, we were heartened by the outpouring of support from local businesses and individual library users—including parents, students, seniors and jobseekers—from neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn. Gifts from individuals and local businesses ranged from less than a dollar to an anonymous gift of $10,000, with all providing essential support for books and other library materials to fill the shelves of our 58 branch libraries, Business Library, 4 “mobile” libraries and our flagship Central Library. In addition, more than 6,000 advocacy messages from community members identifying BPL as a community priority were sent to elected officials as a result of the 2009 SOS campaign. BPL just launched its 2010 SOS campaign.