Florence County Library System

The Florence County Library System in South Carolina took an intergenerational approach with programs designed to reach children, teens and seniors. Aubrey Carroll, Information Services Manager integrated the initial financial literacy programming with an established and very successful fall festival. In tandem with the seventh annual Dewey D. Fox Fall Festival for children and adults of all ages, the library kicked-off a season of financial education events and had an astounding attendance of 2000!

The Survey Says

Children ages 4 through 11 were a major target audience and the library’s goal was to have at least 90% of the 1000 children who attended the Dewey D. Fox Fall Festival gain an understanding of the role and value of money. Crafts and puppets made the learning fun. A piggy bank craft taught by the children’s staff emphasized the importance of savings and the children’s puppeteer incorporated money oriented educational themes into the performance. Children and their parents were encouraged to complete a brief survey that asked them to identify money concepts they had learned at the festival. They could circle savings, budgeting, credit cards, earning money and more. The most popular choice was savings (40%) and all respondents (100%) listed at least one money concept learned.

Partners Prove Timing Is Everything

A lot of time was spent developing solid partnerships with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, the Florence Chapter of AARP and the Family Service Center of South Carolina. Carroll met individually with all the partners and so many good ideas were generated by these separate partner meetings the he decided to bring everyone together for a workshop planning meeting for adult programs. The process generated a planning strategy for both a fall and spring adult workshop series

Called Take Control of You Money, he continued with savvy scheduling this time for adult programs. The partners decided to reverse the order of the fall and spring workshops from the original schedule and offer the retirement planning workshop in spring 2012 to take advantage of the AARP Tax Aide promotional opportunities. “We realized that there would be a ‘captive’ audience of nearly 1,000 middle aged and older adults coming to the library to have their taxes done and all of them could learn simultaneously about the retirement workshop we were offering. It was an opportunity too good to pass up.”

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Always an Alternative Approach

The library’s initial teen LifeSmarts competition and the Teens & Money essay contest did not attract a crowd. So they reprised an existing and successful program format, a Teen Lock-In that proved to be wildly popular. They expected 40 teens from grades 6th through 12th instead they had 188 kids show up! How did they do it? “Direct marketing really works with teens,” said Carroll. After getting approval from the school district, library staff created a colorful and exciting flyer, 10,000 copies in fact, and delivered them to every school. Carroll talked with available principals and school media specialists, when they were making deliveries to make sure that the flyers with permission slips on the back, reached the kids and their parents. The two-hour Lock –In featured contestants in a mock quiz show who tested their knowledge on the actual cost of owning a car, how compound interest works and more. In true game show tradition, “fabulous prizes” including an e-reader were awarded and this with the added attraction of favorite foods helped create “buzz” for the Lock-In at the schools.

Lessons Learned

• “We learned that not every program we planned was achievable in the way we had envisioned it,” said Carroll. They renamed Senior Money Management workshops to Lunch& Learn with speakers on investment fraud from the South Carolina Attorney General‘s Office. A catered lunch was followed by breakout session in the computer and training room on Value Line.

• The partnerships developed to support financial literacy programs will continue and that creates support for a sustainable program with benefits beyond the grant period. “Our evolving infrastructure is building our capacity to continue with online resources, children’s and teen programs and public workshops,” said Carroll.

• “Adapt a program format that has worked previously in YOUR Community. A program that already has a following builds on your success and attracts familiar and new audiences,” said Carroll.

Grants awarded in 2010; 2013


Looking to take your library’s financial literacy efforts to the next level? Connect with ALA’s Financial Literacy Interest Group.