That is what the Helen Matthes Library Board is asking citizens to do, but board members realize it will take more than a new slogan to gain the interest of the community. As a result, a marketing plan aimed at promoting the services offered at the library and increasing awareness of what services are available was discussed at Monday night’s board meeting.

After collecting information from members of the public through a survey, the library developed a mission statement to provide lifelong learning, which includes providing space for groups to meet, cultural activities, educational opportunities, general information and access to current technology; and to provide current topics and titles, which includes putting patrons in touch with desired materials regardless of format and encouraging reading.

To accomplish its mission, library administrators have worked with outside professionals to create a marketing plan aimed an enhancing community awareness of library services and increasing usage at the library.

Plan goals to be completed by the end of the 2008 fiscal year include: increasing circulation and cardholders by 5 percent; providing at least 12 off-site presentations or classes for local nonprofit groups, businesses, or other organizations; increasing membership in its electronic bulletin board to 500 users; and increasing overall program attendance by 10 percent.

The plan also includes several marketing tactics to reach the set goals with the library staff and board utilizing existing avenues to “push out” information about the library and developing new means to promote its services, such as holding off-site events, participating in community events and raising awareness of programs and services through the use of the media.

Library Director Amanda Standerfer said the marketing plan not only gives the library direction, but it also provides a timeline for goals to be met, which she said will help the library keep on task.

“I think it will help us stay focused,” she said.

The board is expected to formally approve the marketing plan at its October meeting.

Board members also discussed the One Book, One Community program, which will be held in October.

Through the program, members of the community are asked to read the book “Pay It Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde and are invited to participate in a variety of programs involving the book, including a visit from the author.

According to information presented by Standerfer, Hyde will be in Effingham on Oct. 12 and will participate in two book discussions during her visit — one at 10:30 a.m. at the library and the second at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Effingham. An invitation-only fund-raiser dinner also will be held that day to help cover a portion of the costs at 5 p.m. at Rexroats, with the suggested donation of $30 a person or $55 per couple. Reservations will be limited.

The author visit, which will be the main event to kick off the monthlong program, will cost the library $5,000, which Standerfer said has already been raised through program contributions. However, the library still needs to raise an additional $700 to “break even,” which it hopes to accomplish through the dinner.

Other programs scheduled for the month include a free showing of the movie “Pay It Forward” at the Heart Theatre at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 and book discussions on Oct. 17 and 23.

In other business, the board:

• Discussed applying for a grant that would allow the library to have a system that would allow patrons to download books as MP3s online. Patrons would be able to access the material from their home computers, with the file expiring after a set amount of days.

• Discussed the online bulletin board, which provides information about the library and other community organizations.

• Approved the creation of a building maintenance assistant to work at the building for 4.5 hours a week. Services in the past were contracted out.

• Approved an application for a per capita grant from the Illinois State Library for $15,251.

• Was introduced to the youth services librarian Shirley Marshall of Effingham, who took the position vacated by Roberta Meyer.

Kim Wiedman can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 128 or kwiedman@effinghamdailynews.com

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