Establishment of Non-Profit Corporation: On November 5, 2003, a group of sixteen people met at the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library in McArthur, Ohio in response to a request from Erick C. Walker, the assistant director of the library, to consider establishing a friends of the library organization. The individuals present at the meeting agreed that there was sufficient justification for forming such a group. The Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library building is a clean, modern, well-appointed, and well-equipped structure of approximately 10,500 square feet which houses more than 55,000 titles. It is located in Vinton County, Ohio, about 85 miles southeast of the state’s capital. The sixteen people at the November meeting determined that a non-profit corporation could assist the library’s staff in promoting educational, cultural, and recreational programs and services for the residents of the county. Since the taxpayers of the community were providing an adequate building and ample holdings for the library, the mission of the new group—beyond addressing needs that might arise—was to improve and expand the outreach efforts of the library. The founding friends of the library hoped to bring more and better educational and cultural exhibits and activities to a larger number of the county’s residents than ever before.
Toward that end, the sixteen founders began the process of establishing the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library. It was decided that the group would have five regularly scheduled general meetings per year (one meeting in each of the following months: January, March, May, September, and November). And a steering committee was formed at the November 2003 meeting to research the issues crucial to founding the organization and to take the initial steps toward creating the entity.
On January 21, 2004, the steering committee and some additional individuals attracted to the idea of a friends of the library organization convened a second meeting. Douglas C. Kinder, a member of the steering committee, presented a draft set of bylaws to the group which, with revisions, was adopted as the governing instrument of the unincorporated Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library. Under the provisions of that document, the group elected five officers: The Reverend Robert S. Graetz as president; Eileen B. Cottrill as first vice-president; Douglas C. Kinder as second vice-president; Connie L. Pollard as secretary; and Joy E. Dickerson as treasurer. The group also decided to fulfill the requirements for becoming a non-profit corporation under Ohio law and to apply for tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
On March 17, 2004, the new group held its third meeting. Adhering to the provisions of the organization’s bylaws, Robert S. Graetz, the president, had appointed chairpersons (which serve at the pleasure of the president) for standing committees. The group has four standing committees: the fundraising committee, according to the bylaws, must be headed by the second vice-president; the programming, public relations, and governance committees are directed by the president’s appointees. The Reverend Graetz appointed Erick C. Walker as the programming chairperson; there have been multiple appointments to the public relations committee (but little stability yet in that post); and The Reverend Graetz invited Trecia Kimes-Brown, an attorney in McArthur, Ohio, to become a member of the organization and to serve as governance chairperson and the group’s legal counsel. Ms. Kimes-Brown became, and remains, a member of the Friends of the Library, served as governance chairperson (from March 17 until September 15, 2004), and has served free of charge as the organization’s legal counsel continuously since March 2004. After Ms. Kimes-Brown informed the group of the steps necessary to become a non-profit corporation and to achieve tax exempt status, the Friends of the Library membership authorized her to act on its behalf on these matters.
During April 2004, Ms. Kimes-Brown prepared the articles of incorporation for the Friends of the Library. On May 4, 2004, the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library organization was officially incorporated by the State of Ohio. Because official documentation of the incorporation did not reach Ms. Kimes-Brown before the group’s next meeting (May 19, 2004), formal adoption of the organization’s bylaws and formal election of its officers did not occur until the subsequent regularly scheduled meeting (September 15, 2004).
Between May and September 2004, preparations were made for the new non-profit corporation to hold its first meeting as a legal entity and for application to the Internal Revenue Service for tax exempt status. The governance committee, headed by Ms. Kimes-Brown and including Douglas C. Kinder, reviewed and revised the existing bylaws to make them comply with legal norms. Additionally, Ms. Kimes-Brown and The Reverend Graetz invited Don B. Cotner, a certified public accountant in McArthur, Ohio, to become a member of the Friends of the Library and asked Mr. Cotner to serve as the group’s accountant. Mr. Cotner joined the organization, agreed to serve as its accountant (offering to serve in that capacity free of charge), and began the application process for gaining tax exempt status.
On September 15, 2004, the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library, Inc. held its first official meeting. The members present at the meeting adopted the revised and updated bylaws as the governing instrument of the corporation. And members elected unanimously Robert S. Graetz as president; Eileen B. Cottrill as first vice-president; Douglas C. Kinder as second vice-president (with responsibility for fundraising); Connie L. Pollard as secretary; and Joy E. Dickerson as treasurer.
The establishment of the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library, Inc. has truly been a group effort. As of December 2004, the corporation has thirty-four members in good standing and with full voting rights. The leaders in the effort have been the five officers and Erick C. Walker, Trecia Kimes-Brown, and Don B. Cotner. Fifty percent of the organization’s/corporation’s endeavors between November 2003 and December 2004 have gone toward the creation of the entity.
Fundraising: Money has been raised by the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library, Inc. in four ways. The corporation has accumulated money through the sale of raffle tickets, the recruitment of dues-paying members, the voluntary contributions of money by residents, and the sale of donated and discarded books.
Raffles: At the Wild Turkey Festival (an annual street fair and/or carnival held in McArthur, Ohio and coinciding with the official state hunting season for wild turkey)May 6 to 9, 2004, the Friends of the Library sold raffle tickets for $1 each or six tickets for $5 for five “themed literary baskets.” The baskets consisted of decorated baskets or containers with a book or multiple books selected for the themes of mystery, romance, gardening, sports, and children’s literature. Each basket also included coffees, teas, cookies, chocolates, candles, and/or other items to make the reading of the included book(s) more enjoyable. The corporation spent $142.89 to create and provision the five baskets; five tickets were drawn to determine the winners of the five baskets; and the ticket sales earned $419.01.
The Friends of the Library organization conducted a similar raffle of “literary baskets” between November 11 and December 18, 2004. This fundraising effort sold raffle tickets at the same prices for five themed baskets that were meant to be suitable to give or receive as Christmas gifts. These were high quality prizes costing the Friends of the Library about $200 to assemble; six winning tickets were drawn on December 18, 2004; and ticket sales earned almost $600 for the Friends of the Library.
The corporation hopes to make these two raffles annual events that will be known for attractive and high quality prizes. It hopes that the raffles will demonstrate the value of books as gifts and means of making reading enjoyable. And it hopes that the raffles will be its largest regular fundraising efforts. No solicitation is done for the raffles by mail. A small story carried free of charge in the two local newspapers announced that the raffles were or are occurring (with a description of the baskets and ticket prices). There may be posters placed at some area businesses or at the meeting sites of area civic organizations. But the primary means of attracting ticket buyers is by seeing the Friends of the Library booth at the Wild Turkey Festival, by seeing the baskets on display in the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library, and by personal contacts of the corporation’s members with their families and friends.
All corporation members voluntarily contribute in some way to these fundraising efforts, but the single individual generally responsible for fundraising is the second vice-president. Approximately twenty percent of the corporation’s effort has been expended between November 2003 and December 2004 on all aspects of the raffles and associated activities.
Recruitment of Members: The recruitment of dues-paying members has been an important means of raising money; however, it has required virtually no effort. New members have been found by having residents learning of the corporation when raffle tickets are being sold or when residents attend a program sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Publicity, in the form of stories in the local newspapers, is free of charge and includes a description of the corporation, its current fundraising activity (one of the two raffles), and its current programs on behalf of the library. These stories encourage citizens that want to be involved in voluntary endeavors to contact the library or a member of the Friends of the Library.
Because the treasurer of the corporation, Joy E. Dickerson, is a primary organizer of a one-day bluegrass music festival held annually in early August at the Vinton County, Ohio airport (The Ridgetop Music Fest), the Friends of the Library assembled an informational booth at the festival. The booth was staffed by only two members; there was no fee for the booth; and the booth staff merely handed out flyers and membership application cards with information about the corporation and discussed planned activities of the Friends of the Library with festival goers.
Despite limited effort and most recruitment coming from the programs of the corporation, the Friends of the Library’s membership has increased by fifty percent since May 2004 and ninety additional dollars in dues have been added to the Friends of the Library treasury.
Voluntary Contributions: Although the Friends of the Library have not solicited contributions by mail or personal contacts and no effort has been directed to this fundraising activity, contributions of money have benefited the corporation. Upon learning of the establishment of the organization/corporation, some supporters of the library gave the Friends of the library a total of $426.02. Similarly, when those attending events sponsored by the corporation learn of its mission, they frequently donate small amounts of money which have further strengthened the Friends of the Library treasury. At movie night events (described below under program activities), those in attendance have contributed $58.00.
Book Sales: Potentially one of the greatest means of fundraising for the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library, Inc. is book sales. Either from old books removed from the library’s collections, from books donated to the library for sales (to benefit the library), or from donations of books to the Friends of the Library, the corporation has items it can sell at very low cost which will encourage reading and book ownership (a practice that the corporation especially wants to encourage among the area’s youth). And the corporation can raise money, too. As of December 2004, the Friends of the Library organization has not received book donations, and it has provided minimal labor at book sales. But the library has designated the proceeds of book sales held at the library as the property of the Friends of the Library. Thus, more than $385 has entered the corporation’s treasury through the sale of books.
The Friends of the Library plan to organize and operate all book sales at the library after December 2004. That would probably mean three sales per year (one in early May; one in October; and one in December). The corporation also intends to conduct small book sales at its booth at the Wild Turkey Festival in May 2005 and at the Ridgetop Music Fest in August 2005. Although fundraising will occur, book sale efforts will include many books to be given free of charge to patrons (especially those younger than 18), and other books will be made available at prices of $0.05 to $0.50. In the future the combined endeavors for raffles and book sales may amount to thirty-five percent of the activities of the Friends of the Library.
Between November 2003 and December 2004, fundraising has required twenty percent of the activity of the Friends of the Library under the general direction of the second vice-president and has earned slightly more than $2000.
Programs Benefiting Vinton County, OH: Under the general direction of Erick C. Walker, the programming committee chairperson, the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library, Inc has undertaken a series of actions in support of the mission of the library. Activities and planning for activities occurred before the Friends of the Library organization was incorporated and continued without interruption after incorporation. Between November 2003 and December 2004, these efforts account for thirty percent of the total activity of the organization/corporation. Programs to benefit Vinton County, Ohio are the literary festival, movie nights, book discussions, the Gift of Reading, the Helping Hands Christmas Angel Ornament Tree, the Festival of Trees, the Christmas movie matinee, Christmas Holiday Storytelling, and individual exhibits and events throughout the year.
Literary Arts Festival: Individual members of the Friends of the Herbert Wescoat Library began making plans for a three-day literary arts festival (to be held April 15, 16, and 17, 2005) in May 2004. Because at least two grant-in-aid programs by organizations in Ohio will fund artistic, cultural and literary presentations and exhibits, the Friends of the Library and the library’s professional staff began in July 2004 to seek outside funding for the proposed event. One of the duties of the fundraising committee (under the direction of the second vice-president) of the Friends of the Library is to assist the library staff in preparing grant proposals. The programming committee has the responsibility for actually conducting an event. Thus, the two committees, headed by Douglas C. Kinder and Erick C. Walker, worked together in arranging the spring literary arts festival.
The Board of Trustees of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library was impressed enough with the proposed event that it agreed, if necessary, to pay the entire cost of the festival. But the Friends of the Library and the library’s staff anticipate that grant funding will reduce the contribution of the board by about fifty percent. Besides providing free, voluntary labor and other in-kind contributions, the Friends of the Library will donate $600 toward the total expenses of the literary festival.
The event will include a performance of traditional Celtic folk music by the General Guinness Band (an accomplished troupe of professional musicians and step dancers from Columbus, Ohio); a writing contest for high school students residing in Vinton County, Ohio (prizes of $150 to be given to the winning entries in four genres of writing); two presentations by noted local authors; two keynote presentations by nationally-known authors from outside southern Ohio; and a raffle of a 40-inch by 40-inch hand-quilted wallhanging. Planned as an annual event, the literary arts festival is meant to showcase local authors and artists and provide a forum for residents to experience successful authors from outside the region.
Movie Nights/Book Discussions: In July 2004, the library added to its existing program of monthly group book discussions (events already attended by individuals that became members of the Friends of the Library) a program of monthly movie nights. The library, under licensing arrangements with the leading film distribution corporations, may show recent, but not first-run, movies free of charge to any person coming to the scheduled showing at the library. The actual title of films may not be advertised; however, the fact that a film is shown on a designated day, once a month, at 7:00 pm may be publicized. The Friends of the Library provide free soft drinks and popcorn to those attending the movie. Thus the non-profit corporation co-sponsors the movie night program. Those in attendance may make voluntary donations to, or apply for membership in, the Friends of the Library. A means will likely be found for the corporation to also co-sponsor the monthly book discussions. Both movie nights and book discussions will continue as regular events at the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library.
Christmas Holiday Charities: The Gift of Reading is an existing activity of November and December that accumulates money to buy books as Christmas gifts for distribution to needy families in Vinton County, Ohio. The Helping Hands Christmas Angel Ornament Tree is also an existing activity of November and December, but it has individuals provide a Christmas gift or gifts to Ohio’s Job and Family Services Agency for distribution to its clients. Through its Holiday Festival of Trees, the Friends of the Library in November and December 2004 donated money to the two existing charities.
The Friends of the Library corporation invited Vinton County’s businesses and organizations to each decorate a small Christmas tree (each business or organization donated their labor, materials, and the resultant tree) to be sold in an auction. The money earned was used to purchase books and gifts for the Gift of Reading and Helping Hands Christmas Angel Ornament Tree programs. Before being auctioned, the Christmas trees were displayed in the library, creating a holiday wonderland for the enjoyment of patrons between November 27 and December 18. The library encouraged businesses and organizations to donate unsold Christmas trees to the county’s skilled nursing facilities, senior citizens’ centers, schools, and similar institutions.
Special Christmas Programs: The Christmas movie matinee is a new activity of the Herbert Wescoat Memorial Library. Coinciding with the Vinton County Travel and Tourism Bureau’s kick-off of the annual Christmas shopping season (Christmas in Downtown) and the annual Christmas parade, the library on December 4, 2004 offered two children’s Christmas movie showings. One was for children ages two to five (at 2:30 pm) and one was for ages six to twelve (at 3:30 pm). The Friends of the Library provided free refreshments. The event will likely be held in succeeding years.
A Christmas Holiday Storytelling event has been held for some time at the library. Residents are encouraged to attend (including adult individuals and children accompanied by a parent or guardian) and to take turns telling or reading a Christmas story or singing a holiday song. Since the Friends of the Library corporation was functioning during its first Christmas season, it provided refreshments and served as a co-sponsor the event.
Future Events: With the achievement of organizational stability in September 2004, the Friends of the Library hope to devote sixty-five percent of its effort in succeeding years to activities, through the library, bringing educational, cultural, and recreational benefit to the residents of Vinton County, Ohio. Undoubtedly, the new non-profit corporation will assist the library in presenting additional exhibits and events distributed in every season of future calendar years.