Mission – The Foundation mobilizes community resources and relationships that empower our Library to deliver innovative programs and services.
Purpose – The Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation serves as the vehicle through which private funds are used to enhance the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s collections, programs, and technologies while supporting the Library’s Strategic Initiatives:
1) Invest in Young Minds by building confident caregivers, creating a culture of literacy and inspiring innovative experiences.
2) Engage and Strengthen Community by bridging the opportunity gap, connecting with community, and becoming a community catalyst.
3) Transform Lives by championing lifelong learning, telling our story, and delighting our customers.
History – Originally established in 1972 as the Metropolitan Cedar Rapids Library Foundation, the Foundation’s mission has always been focused on supporting the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s efforts to promote literacy and lifelong learning in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities. In 1980, after five failed bond proposal votes, the Foundation was reorganized and refocused to help finance the library’s move from the Third Avenue Carnegie Library to the First Street library location. With support from the Hall Foundation and the City of Cedar Rapids, the renamed Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation and hundreds of volunteers raised money needed to build a new library, which opened in 1985. In the years that followed, the Foundation provided funds in support of the Library’s collections, technology, infrastructure, art acquisitions, and more. Following the flood of 2008, the Foundation’s role was again reimagined and focused on rebuilding both the downtown Library and the Cedar Rapids community. In collaboration with the City and thousands of donors and volunteers, the Foundation and Library leadership led successful campaigns to build not one, but two new Libraries for our community. The Foundation and Library are now, more than ever, concentrated on providing our patrons with innovative opportunities to interact with and learn through books, technology, art, and each other.
Our Participatory Library – At the turn of the 20th century, when public libraries like Cedar Rapids’ were popping up around the country, they featured shelf-lined walls around open spaces with tables and chairs meant for gathering, sharing, learning and collaborating. They were spaces for community participation, meeting their community’s needs. Sometime mid to late-century, a library’s collection became the emphasis and shelves replaced these open spaces for gathering. After the 2008 Flood, our Library was gifted the opportunity to reimagine its form and function.
Our Library today is a participatory library. We are a Library that offers gathering spaces and programs that are engaging our community, helping to meet community needs every day.
How the Foundation Supports Our Library
Strategic Focus: Invest in Young Minds. We’re building confident caregivers, creating a culture of literacy and inspiring innovative experiences.
Teen Engagement – With support from the Giacoletto Foundation, the Library’s young adult space, known as The Union, is filled with technology and resources not usually found in homes or schools. Teens are able to use music recording equipment, large drawing tablets and learning tools such as spheros, which introduce students to computer programming. Additionally, Library staff has created Maker Kits that include all necessary equipment plus instruction booklets to help teens get started on new skills. Maker Kits available in The Union (available for check out Fall 2017) include: Photo/Video Kit, Microscope Kit, Computer Kit (Raspberry Pi) and Creation Kit (sewing). The Library is also entering its second year of project-based classes for high school and middle school students aimed at engaging them in STEAM-focused after school activities at the downtown Library. In an effort to reach more youth in our community, these programs have been expanded to Ladd Library as well.
Preschool Outreach –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. Since 1990, the Library has supported at-risk preschools in the Cedar Rapids community to provide monthly story times where children get to keep the books read for their own home library. This outreach program also provides snacks during special events such as parent-teacher meetings and graduation ceremonies.
NEW! The Reader – A partnership between our Library, the Library Foundation, and The Gazette, The Reader is our Library’s newest publication for children. Much like the Weekly Reader or Mini-Pages from our childhood, this eight-page insert features fun, skill-building activities targeting Pre-K through 3rd grade children. Library staff have created year-round curriculum that reinforces early literacy and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) concepts. The Reader 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). A printer-friendly, digitized version of The Reader will be available online as well.
Strategic Focus: Engage & Strengthen Community. 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. This year’s eight-week experience includes regular programs like our off-site story times at Bever and Jacolyn Parks and Brucemore alongside new programs like Bicycle Basics and Tiny Houses DIY workshops. The 2016 Summer Dare was successful beyond imagination with more than 4,500 participants who read over 1.3 million minutes. We know 2017 is staged to exceed all expectations!
Strategic Focus: Engage & Strengthen Community. (Continued.)
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 2016 line up featured Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), Matt de la Pena (Mexican Whiteboy), and Jenny Lawson (TheBloggess.com).
Book Club Facilitators – The Library maintains more than 100 book club kits that are available to members of the public and its 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.
Strategic Focus: Transform Lives. We’re championing lifelong learning, telling our story, and delighting our customers.
Enhanced Online Resources – In partnership with the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, SCORE, Small Business Development Center, Kirkwood, Eastern Iowa Council of Governments and the City of Cedar Rapids, the Library is the entry point for a microloan program targeting minorities and women. The Library Foundation, in partnership with the Transamerica Foundation, is supporting the Library’s role in the MICRO program 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.
Reference librarians assist aspiring entrepreneurs with these tools as they develop business plans and begin the microloan application process. Library cardholders are able to access these databases using their library card number via the Library website as well.
Video Storytelling Project –While Library usage has climbed to record numbers, support and awareness of library services continues to be an area of opportunity. The use of video as an awareness tool has increased dramatically in the past few years, and the Library will enter the world of video storytelling in FY17. The Library begins this project with key goals to increase awareness of library services to non-users; increase use of specific library services; and increase awareness of the value of the public library. One way the Library plans to utilize its new video content is via a branded CRPL YouTube Channel.
Downloadable Audiobooks – Since 2008, the Foundation has funded the Library’s selection of downloadable audiobooks. Over the years, the selection has increased and patrons’ use of this service has multiplied. In fiscal year 2015, library users downloaded nearly 18,000 audiobooks via the Library’s website. Fiscal year 2016 saw more than 20,000 audiobook downloads.
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 collection budget since 1985.
Library Staff Development – The Foundation funds annual Library staff development as well as Library volunteer appreciation and recognition. In fiscal year 2016, Library staff listened as Center for the Future of Libraries Director Miguel Figueroa shared emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve. This year, staff will hear from an expert on storytelling and community engagement.
The Cedar Rapids Public Library challenges you to TAKE ON LITERACY in 2017! Join us in our 120th year as we connect with the community to find unique and inspiring ways to create a culture of literacy in Cedar Rapids.
In our area:
• More than 1 in 4 third graders do not read proficiently at the end of third grade. This increases to more than 1 in 3 for low income students.
• Students who are not proficient are 4 times more likely to not graduate on time, which increases to 13 times if they are also from a low income household.
The Library’s goal is to have 120 businesses and organizations participate in the challenge in 2017, its 120th year of public service. Iowa City is a UNESCO City of Literature, and we want to make Cedar Rapids the City of Literacy!
Examples from organizations who have already registered to participate include:
Cedar Rapids Roughriders’ reading program encourages classrooms to read a certain number of minutes. When the goal is reached, members of the Roughriders hockey team join the children at their school to play during recess.
Family Caregivers Center of Mercy will partner with our Library to develop a list of narrative books that family caregivers can read to the individuals for whom they care that have chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes, etc.
Inter-Religious Council of Linn County is exploring opportunities to encourage and educate on religious literacy in our community.
It’s easy to get involved. Simply visit our Library’s website at www.crlibrary.org/takeonliteracy to register. The Take On Literacy page offers a menu where you can choose an option or create your own unique way to introduce reading and literacy into what you do.
Once you make a selection, we want to hear about it! We will highlight area businesses and groups promoting literacy throughout the year, demonstrating how the community of Cedar Rapids has come together to Take on Literacy in 2017. We hope you join us!