The library is funded by . . . you.
It’s true. Tax dollars make sure that everyone in Christian County has access to all the core resources the library provides.
But in order to support extra projects and services, the library needs supplemental funds. This can come from grants, businesses, other non-profits, or private donations. Individuals can put the library in their will, donate stocks or property, or allocate funds to purchase books in memory of a loved one.
But who’s behind helping acquire this funding?
I started my day with exactly that person, Tory, the department head of Development and Strategic Partnerships. Tory’s a one-person team, and her role in the library is ever-evolving. She does so much, in fact, that it’s hard to pinpoint where to start.
Your Library has a Social Life
Well, we could start with grant writing.
It’s a substantial part of Tory’s job, and as the library’s liaison with the Library Foundation, an independent organization that raises money for the library and also has a part in writing grants, she’s where the buck stops.
She explained to me that grant writing isn’t only about proving the library can use potential extra funding for the good of the community. There’s also a lot of nuance to finding opportunities. Cultivating relationships and staying connected to community groups, public entities, and local businesses are always on her mind.
Like when Marco’s Pizza in Nixa approached the library with plans to donate. This ultimately led to a promotional night in which some proceeds from Marco’s Pizza’s sales went toward benefiting the library.
Or the time Wal-Mart provided a grant to purchase snacks and hygiene products offered at the front doors of the library for those in need for free.
Or when Tory partnered with the Christian County Historical Society and local historian Wayne Glenn to make sure the newly-opened Ozark Mill at Finley Farms had access to accurate local history information and images when designing their facilities. The library ultimately lent photographs and historical paintings to be displayed there. In exchange, the Ozark Mill provided the funding for those paintings to be appraised.
Relationships like these are another part of how the library secures additional resources while building community.
Two Heads are Better Than One
Many grants are specifically written for joint projects. So, Tory takes extra care to team up in her grant applications.
She reaches out, many times to other public entities, looking to cooperate in a meaningful effort in which everyone benefits. For example, the library may partner with Parks and Recreation departments or the local Arts Council to apply for a grant that will provide something for both parties.
Not only does Tory team up with entities outside the library, but also other departments within the library.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a need for virtual programming equipment, such as cameras, microphones and lights. When applying for a relevant grant, Tory drew from the Information Technology department’s expertise. This way, she was able to write a grant application that was detailed and informed.
Other departments of the library collaborate with Tory in order to utilize her expertise in acquiring funds. Youth Services may, for example, need additional shelving or programming materials outside of the library’s budget. Tory, then, would try her best to seek funding for it.
Telling the Library’s Story
The library does a lot for its community. Part of Tory’s role is to make sure everybody knows it. She calls this: “Telling the library’s story.”
Legislative advocacy is crucial to securing funding because people who make important decisions, such as elected officials, should understand what the library does and what its needs are. During those discussions with legislators, Tory utilizes research and statistics to justify her points, and she makes sure the library’s voice is heard.
You are the Library
When I said that extra things the library does need to be supplemented by additional funding, it’s important to realize that you are a big part of that. Donations, big or small, amount to real differences in the community. My day with Development and Strategic Partnerships showed me that Tory knows this well.
That’s where her heart is: telling the library’s story everywhere she goes, so that people, be it individuals or organizations, are inspired to give.
And everybody who gives, Tory made clear, not only gets back vital library resources in return but also provides greatly to the people around them.