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Foundation – What We Do

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The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

How the Foundation Supports Our Library

We’re building confident caregivers, creating a culture of literacy and inspiring innovative experiences.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

United Way data shows the average ratio of books to child in a middle-income neighborhood is 13 books per child. In a low-income neighborhood, the ratio decreases to one book per 300 children. There are approximately 9,100 children ages 0 to 5 in the City of Cedar Rapids. In order to increase access to books, improve kindergarten readiness, and support our community’s grade-level reading initiative, the Library Foundation hopes to launch Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) in January 2018. DPIL provides every child one free, age-appropriate book per month for their first five years. Those enrolled at birth will have 60 personalized books in their home before they reach kindergarten. This will be a transformational program for our community’s children.

The Reader

Like the Weekly Reader or Mini-Pages of our childhood, this eight-page insert features fun, skill-building activities targeting Pre-K through 3rd grade children. The Reader’s year-round curriculum reinforces early literacy skill building and STEAM initiatives. Each issue is inserted in approximately 17,300 issues of The Gazette on the third Sunday of each month and distributed to area elementary schools (Kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms) September through May. A printer-friendly, digitized version of The Reader is available online as well.

Teen Engagement

The Union, our Library’s young adult space, provides youth with technology and resources not usually found in homes or schools. As a result of Foundation funding, teens are able to use music recording equipment, large drawing tablets, and learning tools such as Spheros, which introduce students to computer programming. During the school year, the Library hosts weekly STEAM-focused programs Downtown and at Ladd. Last year, the Library used Foundation funds to purchase a virtual reality (VR) system. This fiscal year, the Foundation will help staff take this equipment outside of our Library for offsite programs. In addition, our Library will launch a series of computer programming classes in which participants will be given his/her own Raspberry Pi computer upon completion.

Preschool Outreach

Library staff use the Every Child Ready to Read curriculum during story times inside and outside our Library. Through monthly story times at preschools serving low-income children, Library staff engage children in the five early literacy practices of Sing, Talk, Read, Write, and Play. These pre and early literacy skills are essential for future success. Since 1990, this preschool outreach program has provided story time books for the children to take home in addition to snacks for special events such as parent-teacher meetings and graduation ceremonies.

We’re bridging the opportunity gap, connecting with community, and becoming a community catalyst.

Summer Dare Program

We are not your average Library and this is not your average summer reading program. Our Library’s Summer Dare is an intergenerational program that combines reading with weekly themed activities designed to encourage lifelong learning and unexpected experiences at the library and beyond. The 2017 Summer Dare was successful beyond imagination with 4,400 participants who read more than 2.7 million minutes. We know 2018 will continue to exceed expectations!

Library Everywhere

Typically, a patron must enter our doors to access Library services. This fiscal year, our Library will take its resources into the community: to places we don’t normally go and to people we don’t typically reach. Our Library will do this in two ways:

  • More Outreach: Through the Take on Literacy initiative, community partners have requested library card drives, lunch-and-learn presentations, and library presence at events. Our Library will engage people in barbershops and boardrooms to meet community needs.
  • Technology Access: Our Library’s technology helps our patrons connect with the world. From computers at the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter to eBook check-outs at the Eastern Iowa Airport, we’re providing access to Library resources where they are.

2017 Out Loud! Author Series

A Metro Library Network program, the Out Loud! Author Series continues to delight thousands of area readers each year. The 2017 line up featured Anne Perry (The Angel Court Affair), Kwame Alexander (The Crossover), and Debbie Macomber (If Not for You).

Book Club Facilitators

Our Library maintains more than 100 book club kits that are available to the public and used by the Library’s off-site book clubs. The Foundation provides funding for two book club facilitators who, since 2004, have led discussions at Cottage Grove Place and Meth-Wick Community.

We’re championing lifelong learning, telling our story, and delighting our customers.

Historic Preservation & Access Project

In partnership with The Gazette and Advantage Companies, the Library Foundation is funding a new effort to digitize past issues of The Gazette from 1857 through the present. These archives are an important piece of community history, and will be accessible through the Library’s website as well as in area classrooms. Two million images will be available upon initial release and approximately one million more will be added by December 2018.

Enhanced Online Resources

The Library Foundation, in partnership with the Transamerica Foundation, is supporting the Library’s role in MICRO (a microloan program focused on minorities and women) by funding subscriptions for two web-based resources:

  • Lynda.com, a LinkedIn Company, provides users with unlimited access to thousands of courses and how-to videos on topics such as photography, 3D animation, developer coding, and business.
  • ReferenceUSA is the leading provider in business and consumer research providing access to business and residential databases to help users create marketing plans, conduct competitive analysis, raise funds, locate people and even find jobs.

Books & Materials

The Library’s books and materials are the consumables that keep our patrons engaged and equipped with well cared-for and maintained literature, videos, music, e-books, and more. The Foundation has supported the Library’s collections budget since 1985.

Library Staff Development

The Foundation funds annual Library staff development as well as Library volunteer appreciation and recognition. In fiscal year 2017, Topeka-Shawnee (KS) Public Library Director Gina Millsap visited to share her insights on library advocacy. Library staff also focused on how it can better serve patrons by learning about Readers Advisory for All from RA specialist Becky Spratford.

FOCUS Newsletters

In spring 2010, the Friends and the Foundation published their first combined newsletter inspired by the creativity and collaboration in the air at the Library. By joining publications, we hope to inform Library supporters better while avoiding multiple mailings. Friends content includes information concerning all the activities, projects and volunteer opportunities that the Friends have to offer.

The Foundation pages highlight new library programs or purchases that were made possible by private contributions and promote other fundraising efforts intended to help grow the reach of the Cedar Rapids Public Library in our community.