This article was written by O’Fallon Public Library Director, Ryan Johnson. It first appeared in the O’Fallon Weekly.
On behalf of the Friends of the Library, I’d like to thank everyone for your generous support last year. 2022 was the Friends’ largest fundraising year to date. The organization raised over $60,000 to help support the library and literacy initiatives throughout our community. That success is due, in no small part, to the generous efforts of our community.
One of the group’s biggest initiatives was creating a local chapter of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL). DPIL is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five, no matter their family’s income. All children residing within the 62269 zip code from birth to age five are eligible for the program. There is absolutely no cost to the family to enroll as this effort funded by the Friends of the Library generous donors throughout our community.
To date, we have just around 500 children enrolled in the program! My daughter is one of them and she is thrilled every month when a book shows up in the mail just for her. If you are interested in registering a child, financially supporting this program, or just want more information, please visit ofpl.info/dolly.
The Friends also held two very successful fundraising events in 2022. In the Spring they hosted “The History Guy” at O’Fallon Station to a sold out audience and in the Fall they hosted a Trivia Night at the local VFW. Both events were tremendous successes and will be replicated in 2023. Stay tuned for more information on each in the coming weeks and months.
The special events are great, but the backbone of the Friends operation deals with selling donated books. An amazing group of dedicated volunteers sorts through all the wonderful treasures you donate. Some of those get listed for sale online, others get put into our ongoing book sale area on the first floor. Your participation on both ends of that equation are crucial. Donating books and other materials gives the volunteers ample supply to work with, and your patronage in shopping the book sale area delivers that revenue.
Of course, we also have a big annual book sale that so many folks look forward to each year. You can mark your calendars now for this year’s sale: Thursday, April 27 through Monday, May 1. Last year’s sale was a huge hit. In total, about 2,600 people came through our doors over the five days. The Friends raised roughly 10k and utilized nearly 40 different volunteers during that period.
So other than DPIL, where does all that money go? The Friends recently funded the purchase of three new AWE Computers for our Children’s area. AWE Computers provide literacy-focused digital learning for young students. Many children in our community still do not have access to digital tools within the home, let alone educational tools. Providing access to safe, engaging, and educational material at the library is a great way to cater to the needs of families and help those students develop skills they need to succeed.
The Friends also funded a soon-to-launch Story Walk installation at Thoman Park. A Story Walk is a movement and literacy boosting project that places an illustrated children’s book, taken apart and displayed page by page, along a walking route. As you stroll down the trail, you’re directed to the next page in the story. Ours is due to launch in mid-March and we can’t wait for you to see it! Special thanks to our Parks Department for their support and collaboration this initiative.
To learn more about the Friends of the Library and see how you might get involved, visit ofpl.info/friends.
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