RAILS Selects Four Projects for My Library Is... Grants

My Library Is... Campaign.

The Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS) announced that four projects have been selected to receive My Library Is… Grants. These grants provide an opportunity for libraries to focus on projects that help tell the library story and that increase visibility and support for all types of libraries. The four projects that were awarded:

  • Fresh Start Marketing - Eureka Public Library District, Chenoa Public Library District, & Pontiac Public Library
  • The Best of Fox River Grove Memorial Library in 30 Seconds - Fox River Grove Public Library District
  • 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Promotion - Rockford Public Library, Cherry Valley Public Library District, North Suburban Library District
  • My Library is a Partner in Growing Young Readers - Skokie Public Library, Skokie Morton-Grove School District 69

Eureka Public Library District, Cheona Public Library District, and Pontiac Public Library will work with a marketing consultant to perform several functions including auditing current marketing materials, designing branding guidelines, creating a series of templates for program promotion and, creating and teaching a coordinate social media plan. These materials would be made widely available to small and rural libraries across Illinois.

"Our goal with this project is to target the library district specifically, both cardholders and non-cardholders in a fresh, new way, one that encourages registering for and using a library card," said Ann Reeves, Executive Director, Eureka Public Library District. "By first evaluating current marketing materials and their effect on our community we know can create a new more successful marketing strategy."

Fox River Grove Public Library District will use their funds to create two videos to highlight the value of the library – one aimed at homeowners to demonstrate the value of the library with regards to quality of life and property value, and one aimed at families to demonstrate the libraries' integral role in supporting youth education in Fox River Grove. Each video is a 30-second look around the relevant areas of the library.

"We envision these videos to be exemplars for showing the best of a library at relatively low cost but with professional quality," said Nicole Steeves, Executive Director, Fox River Grove Public Library District. "We believe they will demonstrate how any library can summarize its value with potent images and in a format that is attractive to any resident, regardless of library use."

In 2015, Rockford Public Library, Cherry Valley Public Library District, and North Suburban Library District, began a collaboration to offer the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at all their library locations. The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is a nationally recognized non-profit program whose objective is to promote reading to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and to foster parent and child bonding through reading. As regional library partners, these libraries will seek to market the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program on multiple fronts and breathe new life into public awareness around the importance of early childhood literacy.

"A professionally designed 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten logo and branding package for this collaborative program will help to synchronize marketing, making the program easily recognizable from library to library," said Emily Klonicki, Assistant Director, Rockford Public Library. "With a unified program that allows a continuum of engagement across area libraries, the ease of participating and staying with the program grows."

"My Library is a Partner in Growing Young Readers" extends Skokie Public Library's 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative through collaboration with a local Preschool for All program. It encourages families to engage in early literacy practices via promotional videos featuring members from our ethnically diverse community, a bilingual lending library, cheerful reading incentives, and group celebrations. This strong partnership presents a model for how libraries and schools can collaborate to better reach children from vulnerable families.

"The early literacy mission of Skokie Public Library (SPL) is to support healthy, whole child development and a love of learning to ensure all young children have the foundation to thrive in school and life," said Shelley Sutherland, Youth Services Manager. "Our goal is to spread the program throughout the Skokie community, focusing on families who may have limited books and resources to prepare their children to be Kindergarten ready."

RAILS would like to thank the following volunteers who participated in the evaluation of applications: Victoria Blackmer, Robert J. Jones Public Library; Patrick Callaghan, Westchester Public Library, Jason Erber, McHenry School District 15; Rachel Gilmore, Shorewood-Troy Public Library District; Gail Graziani, Lisle Library District; Lisa Knasiak, Hinsdale Public Library; Roberta Koscielski, Peoria Public Library; Jane Lenser, Cherry Valley Public Library District; Elizabeth Munoz, Lake Villa Public Library District; Andy Newgren, Rockford University; Tzvetana Petrov, New Lenox Public Library District; Laura Turner, Caterpillar, Inc.

RAILS My Library Is… Grants are offered twice per year. All types of libraries are encouraged to apply. For more information, please see the RAILS website: www.railslibraries.info

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