Greenwood, Indiana—The Greenwood Public Library in Greenwood, Indiana, has received both tangible and intangible rewards from their association with Benevon. Their Points of Entry have generated renewed community support and funding, allowing them to make physical improvements to their facility, and increasing the community's interest in the library.
The medium-sized library, which has been open for ninety years, had basic landscaping: a large grassy area outside the children's section was untended, as was the front of the library. The computer systems needed upgrading to the latest versions of software, and the library's programming was limited.
Though the Friends of the Greenwood Public Library and their Board of Trustees wished to make the necessary updates to their facility and computer systems, the gap between what tax dollars provided and the amount of money that the library required to remain operational was ever-growing. Corporate sponsorships, the small membership fee to join the Friends group, and several book sales a year provided an annual budget of only $5,000 to $10,000.
"Corporate sponsors were helping to fill in the gap, but we didn't have the avenue to get personal donors," says Jane Weisenbach, director of development for the Library and manager of the Friends organization.
Weisenbach and her team invested in the Benevon Model to ensure that their library would be able to continue serving their community by raising the funds that tax dollars no longer provided. That's when they began conducting tours of the Greenwood Public Library and learned the value of the Point of Entry.
On each tour, a brochure was distributed with a wish list of items the library was in need of or desired. Among them was a "butterfly reading garden," which is what the Friends of the Greenwood Public Library envisioned could replace the area of grass outside of the children's department.
During one tour, a patron noticed the item on the wish list, and promptly volunteered herself and her husband, a landscape architect, to take on the task. A local Girl Scouts group, which was participating in a Go Green Initiative, learned about the project, and donated plants to fill the garden. The project also captured the attention of the Kohl's Corporation; both stores located in the Greenwood area supported the project by donating not only money but the manpower to plant the garden and clean up the grounds.
"We had a big landscaping day," Weisenbach says. "We had a ton of volunteers from two Kohl's Stores and the Girl Scout Troops in the area. And they not only did the Butterfly Reading Garden, they landscaped the whole library. It was wonderful."
Kohl's partnered with the library again afterwards, with both stores donating an additional $500 to sponsor the library's Starlight Movie Night and providing volunteers to help with the kid's crafts, games, and selling refreshments.
"We've really forged this great alliance with the Kohl's stores, which may not have happened had we not had a contact made with them through the Point of Entry," Weisenbach says. "People are so excited to help us, it's really crazy."
The first transformation of the Greenwood Public Library's grounds came previously when the children of a former frequent patron donated a waterfall for the front of the library in their father's memory. According to Weisenbach, these donations have helped many more see the value of giving.
During another tour, a woman learned about the need for updating the library's computer systems. She informed Weisenbach that her son worked for Microsoft, and that she would ask for his help. Before she knew it, Weisenbach and the library had been gifted forty licenses for the next upgrade of Windows for all of the library's staff computers, a gift valued at over $2,000.
"All because she came through the tour and thought, ‘I can do that!'" Weisenbach says. "When we followed up with the son, he said that he was happy to do it because GPL had meant so much to him while he was growing up."
The Greenwood Public Library has also made financial gains through the Benevon Model. Their first Ask Event raised over $70,000. Now the library's goal is to raise $100,000 in cash every year.
Weisenbach says those funds will finance additional e-books and materials for programs like "Furry Friends," a program for reluctant readers who feel more comfortable reading to the service dogs that come to the library than a human. "Furry Friends" will benefit by getting a special collection of books just for the program and treats for the dogs.
Weisenbach has seen the Greenwood Public Library come alive since adopting the Benevon Model. She says the library's teen group has grown by around 300 percent. The Friends board has also been revamped, with board members now attending every meeting, acting as Ambassadors for the library, and contributing funds themselves.
"What Benevon has done for our staff is amazing as well," Weisenbach says. "The passion retread has been wonderful. Our staff is all fired up, realizing why they wanted to work here in the first place, and we have people asking to be on our team."
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