Increase Funds and Services

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Friends of the Rogers Public Library
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Maintain an association of persons interested in libraries and to encourage communication among them and to focus public attention on the resources and services offered by the Rogers Public Library. Provide supplementary funds and services to the Library for needs other than those that ought to be budgeted by the City. Support and cooperate with the Library Staff, Trustees and Foundation in developing the Library's services and resources.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Rogers is a community of 50,000 in Northwest Arkansas. It was a much smaller community in 1984 when The Friends of the Rogers Public Library was formed and began a used bookstore in an old auto showroom across the street from the Public Library. Books were “shelved” on old Church pews. Today, the Friends have 285 members and operate a 2,800 sq. ft. used bookstore in Historic Downtown Rogers run by all volunteers who put in 800+ hours every month. We have approximately 30,000 donated books, audio/visuals, magazines and puzzles-all categorized and displayed to make them easy for our customers to find. The funds generated at the bookstore and thru membership fees are granted to the Rogers Public Library, a vital part of our growing community, by vote of the Friends Board for needs and wants not covered in the City budget. Additionally, the Friends pay for library cards for students of the Rogers school system living outside the city limits. Two projects in recent years were a sizable donation for Library expansion and the purchase of two Express Check-out machines. We are assisting with public wireless access to the internet, staff development, on-line audio book downloads, and laptop computer purchase for Library patrons. Given the current economic climate, more and more area residents are turning to the Library to meet their educational, informational and recreational needs. Our donated funds help make these services possible. Should we be one of your contest winners, we would be able to provide additional funds for such needed services and make more Microsoft products available to patrons and staff. The Bookstore has provided books to the local VA Hospital, Nursing Homes, our military forces serving overseas and a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. We donate duplicate books to other charitable organizations such as Arkansas Thrift Store for the Blind, Helping Hands, etc. Our customers are often looking for specific books and if we do not have them, they can complete a request form for the books they want. Prior to Tech Soup, the individual department volunteers would be given a large stack of the request forms and would keep an eye out for the requested materials. With more than 1,000 requests in process at one time it became impossible for our part-time volunteers to manage the service. A new volunteer offered to create a computer program to help us manage this now popular but out of control service for our customers. Thanks to Tech Soup and Microsoft we were able to purchase Visual Studio 2005. We can now track requests for 90 different classifications and do it in a timely manner. We are automatically able to check with customers every 30 days to see if they still want the requested material, E-mail when a book has been located, and print a cover sheet which gives the desk clerk important information about the book and customer. A master list of all books requested is available to the volunteers, who receive book donations on a daily basis, and reports of requests by classification are distributed to the individual department volunteers every two weeks. Having the ability to purge expired requests gives us a viable list from which to fill requests. Only because of our custom software program are we able to continue a popular and meaningful service for our customers. This unique service has created many return customers. As all our books are donated, some of them are old or rare. Our volunteers check their value using Windows Internet Explorer. And when customers can’t remember an author or book title we are able to look this up for them. Our web site contains our request form, and Internet Explorer is used to receive and reply to these requests and keep in touch with customers regarding their requests. Our Treasurer also uses Explorer and Outlook to pay our bills, make purchases, and research pertinent information. Additionally, he uses Microsoft Excel to maintain our mailing lists, membership lists with phone numbers and e-mail addresses, Bookstore sales records, property records, sales charts, analyses of memberships, income, sales, and various calendars. Needless to say, Microsoft Word and Publisher are used over and over, in many ways, for so many things. What did we ever do without these wonderful tools! Our Bookstore has monthly specials and our signs are bold and noticeable thanks to our Bookstore Manager and Word. All correspondence, meeting minutes, bookmarks, etc., is made possible by Word. Our Newsletter, “Among Friends”, published three times a year, is produced using Publisher and our special occasion notices and flyers are bold and professional thanks to Publisher and the themes and artwork available. We are conscious of minimizing expenses to enable us to maximize our contributions while reusing and recycling as much as we can. In fact, our facility has saved or delayed many books and magazines going to the landfill! The products of TechSoup and Microsoft provide significant help to our Bookstore volunteers as we serve a customer base that has been expanding month by month and year by year. Your products enable us to improve services, increase income, and more efficiently operate so we can concentrate on providing the “Friendly” in our title, The Friendly Bookstore.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Supporting Work Files