Relationship building is pivotal in all library success stories, and this one is no different. Starting internally, the library system has put effort into “getting the right people in place. The right people in the right place has been really, really important. And I think we’ve done a great job of that,” said Lauryce Graves McIver. The library system has also nurtured relationships with their staff by allowing them to work to their strengths and support additional training in areas of interest.
One example is the manager of the South Branch, Terrice Thomas. “This particular branch manager of our South Branch is so personally involved and engaged in the community as well, and is so energetic about the programming that they offer personal relationships and their promotion of the program through those personal relationships really successfully,” said Christine M. Weinreich. However, Terrice’s dynamic nature was only fully realized after the library encouraged her to take part in a leadership program called “I-Lead.” Lauryce Graves McIver described the transformation she saw in Terrice after the training, saying, “She’s now branch manager and knocking so many balls out of the park. It’s unbelievable.”
Cooking classes. The internal relationships developed confidence in staff members that was translated into building external relationships. South Branch, under the guidance of Terrice, developed online cooking classes with a series of local chefs which they were able to continue when the library closed due to Covid-19. “It was so successful. They’ve done it every other month, all year long. Wow. Yeah. So how they were able to promote it and get the supplies that were needed to get to go home. And everybody was on zoom. We’ve got these great pictures of like, 12- or 13-year-olds,” said Christine M. Weinreich.
Yoga classes. Another relationship that was built with South Branch was with local yoga teacher, June Phillips, who taught their outdoor yoga classes. And that relationship was supported by a relationship with Christine Weinreich at the Library Foundation, who worked to secure grant funding for fitness programming. “We’re asking for more fitness tools. We want to expose patrons to all the things related to yoga. Not everybody can go buy a yoga mat and blocks and strap. All that stuff or sets of weights or resistance bands, or like we want you to get your hands on it. Just learn about it. So I think we are pushing in that direction, because I think our experience is that if somebody comes to a class at the library to try out yoga they might go read a book about yoga,” explained Christine.
“The more we engage with groups who are out in the community, and partner and sit at their table with them, the more we can bring and they can bring to more people and more eyes and introduce people to more of the resource so they can just better the quality of their life, you know, where and meet them where they are with what their interests are?” Lauryce Graves McIver
Community grants. This South Library branch manager, Terrice Thomas, is the same person Lauryce talked about when she discussed getting a grant from the Canadian National Railway Company.
“There’s a railroad line, called *CN, as a Canadian line … has a lot of logistics, we have rail we have, you know, air, we have everything coming out of here. And they just gave that branch, specifically that branch $10,000 donation, because their employees locally nominated that branch for this award, because they like the brand state. And they made a compassionate pitch to their management because out of thousands of libraries in the country, because they wanted to give this money to a library that existed in a town where they had employees and had a logistical presence and whatnot. And out of all, that they gave it to us. And so what’s the $10,000, a book about the history of CN railroad, and a tree to be planted. So I mean, and she, she did something in that library to get their attention, that they wanted to nominate her and put and fight her to get that money.” Lauryce Graves McIver