Odds are good that your Friends of the Library group strives to reach out to and engage a range of demographics: from retired adults, all the way down to teens and young adults. But did you know that your group's efforts to stoke a life-long interest in reading and learning can begin even at birth?
United for Libraries and co-partners are making this possible with the “Books for Babies” program. Books for Babies assembles inexpensive “gift kits” specially tailored to parents of newborns. Contents include an informational booklet and brochures on developing early literacy skills, one or several “Baby’s First Book” boardbooks, a bib, and “Baby’s First Library Card” (to be exchanged for the real thing at your local branch!)
How do these kits get into the hands of new and expectant parents? Organizations (Women’s Clubs and Junior Leagues, in addition to Friends of the Library) purchase a number of their choosing for their local area. Many supplement the kit basics with more local resources: brochures and magnets giving your library system’s branch hours, a calendar of upcoming story time event dates, a Friends membership flyer, etc.
The customizability options are nearly endless, but the core mission remains the same: encourage parents to engage in developmentally appropriate literacy activities with their babies. There’s no more sure way to guarantee the appreciation and use of our public libraries well into the future!
Tip: If your group is not currently in a position to finance this program independently, consider partnering up with another local nonprofit. The Friends of the Ely Library, for instance, is currently partnering with the local chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to bring “Books for Babies” to new parents in the greater Arrowhead region. Thus far, it has been a great success for all involved.
If this sounds like an avenue worth pursuing, visit United for Libraries’ “Books for Babies” page for pricing packages, distribution strategies, success stories, and other details.