Your Friends of the Library (FOL) group recently secured a grant for A.K. Smiley Public Library! We caught-up with Friends president, Les Kong, to learn about the details of the grant.
Question: Can you describe the grant FOL was awarded?
Answer: Sure, it was the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) through the local government. Part of the local government fund can be used to help 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in San Bernardino county affected by the pandemic with an annual budget less than $1 million and a staff less than fifty. The scope of the grant includes: temporary closures, revenue loss, reduction of programs, cost for Covid compliance, loss of volunteers, and more. We fit the criteria.
Q. How did FOL learn about this grant opportunity?
A. Toni Momberger, former Redlands City Councilwoman, FOL Board Member, let us know about it. I attended a Zoom workshop by the county and asked questions before applying.
Q. What does this grant mean for FOL’s fundraising goals for this year?
A. Because the library and the FOL Bookstore closed periodically during the pandemic (March-August and December until TBD) for the Regional Stay Home Orders(s), we needed to be strategic when structuring FOL Book Sales for the community. Maybe we will offer more materials to attract a larger audience. We are also looking into creating more partnerships with local restaurants, which we’ve done in the past.
We will work with the library for their labor and expenses related to Covid through the CARES grant. For example, the library’s maintenance workers helped with moving materials for our outdoor sales. The book donations rely on library staff labor to ensure Covid safety procedures. New electronic services like Kanopy (a film streaming platform available for free to Smiley library card holders) were purchased by the library when the pandemic started.
Q. Is there anything you can share about FOL’s fundraising initiatives during the pandemic?
A. It has been very difficult because we are so dependent on the community to provide us with donations, both monetary and used materials (books/CDs/LPs/DVDs). The materials we can turn around and create revenue for the library. All of our revenue goes back to the library.
Q. What have you and FOL learned over the fall?
A. It’s been a challenge because of the closures of the library and the FOL Bookstore. We moved our Special Sales/Bag Sales from inside the library to outdoors. Now, we may be limited due to the current Covid surge in San Bernardino county. Though we greatly appreciate the support of our local community and friends, we learned that we cannot accept book donations during the library closures.
Q. How can community members support FOL and in turn, the library during this difficult time?
A. If people have not already become a FOL member, it’s as low as $10/per year which is a great bargain for discounts at the FOL Bookstore and our monthly Bag Sale. All funds generated help to support the library’s wonderful, free resources for the community like the popular Books to Go program, eBooks, Virtual Story Times, and the Adult Literacy program, which recently celebrated its 10th year.
Editor's Note: This interview with Les Kong was conducted on December 30, 2021 by FOL Board Member, M. G. Maloney.
Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and for your ongoing support of A.K. Smiley Public Library via FOL!