By: Susan Sentz
We view our libraries as community centers, providing much needed services to our patrons. During the holiday season many libraries go beyond the typical library services to serve their communities in nontraditional ways. A great way to help give back this season is to get your patrons involved and provide a way for everyone in your library to give back.
The Northampton Area Public Library collects food for the Northampton Area Food Bank throughout the entire year. To get patrons involved during the month of November, the library provides Pluck a Turkey as a more hands-on way to donate. This is accomplished through a paper turkey with food items on each feather. Patrons pluck a feather and bring the items into the library, to then be donated to the food bank. This is a simple way for patrons to become involved without them having to go out of their way to donate.
Many libraries such as Pike County Public Library present a Food for Fines program around Thanksgiving time. Through their Food for Fines program, patrons can donate a nonperishable food item to waive $.50 of fines from their account. The donations are then donated to Safe Haven of Pike County, a domestic violence service center. Nonperishable food donations are a nice way for your patrons to give back to their community, just by going to the Library.
Angel and Mitten Tree
The Northampton Area Public Library partners with the local elementary school to provide children in need with presents for the holiday. The Library hosts an angel tree with items provided by the guidance counselor. Patrons are able to help out their community by choosing an item off the tree at the Library and bringing it back to be sent to the school.
Another way to involve patrons and give back to your community is having a mitten tree. Mitten trees allow patrons to bring in any cold weather item to be donated to a local organization, such as a food bank or school. The St. Clair County Library in Michigan has a mitten tree in each of their branch libraries. Each branch is allowed to choose where the donations go from their library. Some of the libraries even get their groups involved. Such is the case with the Algonac-Clay branch. Their knitters group knits each meeting for the mitten tree at the end of the year. Both the angel tree and mitten tree are simple ways to help local organizations and your surrounding communities.
No matter how you give back this holiday season think about your library’s community and their needs. There are simple ways to get your patrons involved in lending a helping hand. Create a new partnership and make it a tradition to help out year after year.
For more ideas on how to promote the PA Forward Civic and Social Literacy in your library, visit the PA Forward Commons and be sure to add your programs to the database by completing the PA Forward Commons Submission Form!