Farnam Public Library, A New Beginning

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Farnam Public Library
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Farnam Public Library will always anticipate or exceed the requirements of our patrons and donors.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

During 2004 we received a Gates Foundation computer. The computer and the upgrades from TechSoup have been the foundation for hope and the process that followed us from nothing to something of real value to our community. I believe, and everyone else, believes that none of this determination to make this library work would have happened except for the computer and TechSoupl

The Farnam Public Library was originally a jail. We had one room and 2 jail cells for storage. In addition we had a serious case of mold from books and a leak in one of the jail cells. The leak was black mold. Before we could accomplish any marketing we had to get rid of the mold. We organized a brunch with a good will offering which provided the funds needed to cure the mold. AT this point we though we would have to stay in this building but we didn't want anyone to get sick. We wrapped one batch of books and destroyed them. About 1500 books. After two more inspections we eliminated nearly 700 books. At this point we were at least clean enough to bring children into the library.

When we completed this process we developed a marketing program with our primary focus on pre-school children. This program included a reading hour, and Magic School Bus or crafts. We had to organize this so that there would be no hurt feelings. One child would get a computer card. When his 15 minutes was up he/she would give up the computer to the next in line (the craft cards had numbers) and take over a craft. Crafts were an American Flag with the alphabet for stars and their names on lines, tote bags with their names in buttons, and later Christmas items.

We started a program for the next age group of children. Reading, Encarta for homework or PBS games. In the summer we have a Spanish Program for all of the children who agree. We have a 10 year old instructor who speaks English and Spanish fluently. On one occasion Pam was talking about 'manners'. I was passing out cookies and juice. Pam patted one of the boy's hand and said, "You cannot have a cookie unless you say 'Thanks you, Mrs. Minges". I think this was an epiphany of sorts. Last year one of my grandchildren gave us the Muzzy program. So, this year Pam will have several tools to use including some computer support.

Our final effort was for tweens and teens. I wanted them to develop some research skills. I developed a trivia question that went into our newsletters. It took a while, but children learn quickly. Except now they have to learn how to decide whether research is valid or not.

Most of the programs continue year around. Spanish is for the summer, mainly because our instructor has school.

Finally, we were able to convince those couples without computers to use our services for e-mail. We also started computer training, and some typing instruction. Recently we upgraded to Encarta, Office 2007, and Vista.

Our population is 210. Our increase in utilization was from 131 families to 238 families. We do have some farm families as well, but usually during the winter. Our effort from 2004 was four-fold.

  1. Certification of the library, board, and library director. We have achieved all three.
  2. Obtain a building. We thought we had a grant in 2006. It fell through on a technicality. We had to re-apply. We finally were approved and raised our portion of the funds in 2008. We moved into the building the end of June in 2008. We had an open house. We were amazed, 84 people attended.
  3. I wanted the tweens and teens (11-15) to develop some research skills. The Eustis school has their computer lab from 3pm. The Farnam children have to be on the bus at 3:10. If they didn't have a computer lab during the day they didn't have any computer time at all. I was reasonably sure that there would not be any information in the school or even in our library. The first question was "Who is considered the father of modern detection?" A few answers, none correct. It was Francois Eugene Vidocq. The next newsletter had the names of 2 women. Jackie Mitchell who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back to back in an exhibition game in 1931. She was 17. The rest of the story is very sad. The other woman was Toni Stone (not her real name, apparently she developed a name just for baseball). She was the replacement for Hank Aaron and even got a hit from Satche Paige. Her story is much better, the question is how many people have even heard of them. I wanted to know what their accomplishments were. Again, more bad guesses until one boy asked me, after hemming and hawing a bit, how to do this. It may not sound like 'one' is earth shaking, but to me it was like bells and whistles. If one is asking, he will tell the others how to do it.
  4. Obtain more books, games, movies, and hopefully, another computer. When the library opened we had 5078 books and movies. Since then I have received two personal libraries. We have received 1 computer as a memorial, and a laptop as a donation, and another Gates Foundation computer. Our original Gates Foundation had a lot of beating and it finally died. We have a wish list and so far Wifi is heading the list.

We have a computer room! We have two computers and a laptop (this is mine. Using it to develop a catalog) We have said a sad good-by to dial-up. We now have DSL, for which everyone is very happy. We still have time limits for the computers, but they get on quickly so that makes it better. Every time I go into the compueter room, I smile.

The problems with our economy have added two areas that we can use to serve our community.

  1. Movies. No charge. We already have families coming in for movies every weekend.
  2. Computermom.com. We are following her instructions to learn about coupons and how to use them and print them. I have to obtain a blessing from Walmart and one other store. Our problems with fuel (it will go up again) and distance make it a necessity. Our distance from the nearest Walmart is a 100 mile round trip and our nearest store is a 34 mile round trip.

As you can see, from what is a small detail to most people, our computer and TechSoup have developed hope, determination, and a take no 'no's' attitude to developing a real library. Even when we had our open house our contact with the NLC just kept saying "it's awesom".

We are not where we would like to be, but we do have a beginning. We will be in our new building for one year in June. I think we have done the best we can about our infrastructure.

Comparison Reports:

When I started using the report I used January to December, 2004 to 2006. After that 2007 and 2008 were based on our year end.


Patrons in 1264

Books out 956

Books in 944

Movies out 454

Movies in 452

Computer use n/a


Patrons in 1226

Books out 1291

Books in 1286

Movies out 764

Movies in 764

Computer use 118


Patrons in 1281

Books out 1361

Books in 1360

Movies out 1206

Movies in 1206

Computer use 260


Patrons in 1361

Adult Materials out 1531

Childrens Material out 1876

Computer use 215


Patrons in 1612

Adult Materials out 1643

Childrens Materials out 4100

Computer use 243

Note: One computer failed. Repaired and failed again. So we have been in and out of computers until after June 2008.

We are only allowed 10 hours per week which is the minimum for certification.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
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