Evy Nordley Candidate Profile #3: Friends of the Brainerd Public Library (No. 1 of 2)

For many, gift wrapping is an essential part of the Christmas experience. According to studies conducted by 3M and Hallmark, nearly $2.8 billion is spent on festive wrapping paper and related supplies each holiday season. On average, Americans self-report wrapping 15 gifts every year. One in four claims that gift wrapping even puts them more in the “holiday spirit” than shopping does!

crowwingco.pngThese same fun studies corroborate something most of us already know: While it’s a staple of the Christmas experience, many gift-givers procrastinate on shopping and wrapping until the very last minute.

With this paradox in mind, the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library decided to add a special spin and incentives to their 2018 open house.

As with any open house, core objectives included making residents aware of The Friends, and inducing at least a few to enlist. In this case, Friends who joined up (or renewed their membership) at the holiday open house received free on-site gift wrapping services.

In order to ensure that everyone had something to wrap, vice president Dawn Stattine worked out a partnership deal with children’s book publisher and distributor Usborne Books. Usborne set up shop at the Brainerd Public Library to sell an array of its bestselling titles.

Usborne’s offerings – which have a reputation for being colorful, durable and often interactive – drew parents and other shoppers to the Library who would not otherwise have attended a Friends open house, explained president Sheila DeChantal.

christmaspres.jpgThese efforts paid immediate dividends, and in several forms. More than 250 people attended the open house over its six-hour run. The Friends netted ten new members, and a further 17 members already in the fold took the opportunity to renew their commitment for the following year.

In addition, The Friends received a percentage from Usborne Books’s robust sales. Given the choice between a cash payout or a larger contribution paid out in new book stock, organizers chose the latter.

In this way, The Friends were able to donate $800 worth of new and in-demand materials to the Brainerd Public Library’s children’s collection. They ceded the responsibility of selecting the exact titles to the children’s librarian, who naturally knows the target audience best.

usbourne.pngThis high traffic, high impact event cost only $50 in general operating dollars. The bulk of that went towards refreshments. Friends members and other community boosters donated the wrapping paper, bows, tape and other supplies needed to equip the wrapping station.

While the organizers have not yet committed to an encore holiday event in 2019, it’s certainly on the table. “We had a ‘wrap up’ meeting (pardon the pun!) at our next board meeting, and all felt overwhelmingly positive about the experience,” DeChantal said.