Georgetown Public Library

Director Dwight McInvaill and his team are appealing to community identity, tradition, values, pride, and aspirations to make financial education the thing to do in Georgetown County. They are also making it fun for everyone. The intergenerational aspects of this project are unique, and better still, the library is discovering all sorts of ways to make personal financial education interesting with exciting activities that reach people where they are.

PIE Parties

A program that starts with a party must be good, right? This party is called Powerful Investment Education (PIE) and the aim is to engage community members in new and meaningful ways that focus on financial education. The kick-off event was a PIE party held at the Winyah Gym which is just around the corner from the library. 100 people attended to enjoy dozens of different kinds of pie, plus economic gaming for teens, a live band, an opportunity to talk with professors from the local university and free materials from the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

The PIE party idea really caught on with the second party that attracted 400 attendees at East Bay Park. Families enjoyed expanded activities, giant slide, popcorn, pizza, and financial fitness PSAs on a giant screen. “This is so fun!” said a Marysville resident. “The kids keep going down the slide, while I get a chance to talk about my interior design business with the SCORE gentleman.” The third PIE party was the biggest one yet and the crowd of 900 enjoyed all the activities of the second party plus piggy banks for kids to decorate, more expert booths including the fire department and emergency services, an art contest, tote bag giveaways and more. “You should do this every year,” said a library regular. “Look at all these people!”

You Can Be a Star

Producing three 30 second PSAs gave kids and teens an incentive to learn about basic saving and spending concepts. They had a chance to “star” in the production, but before the filming began, they received an in-school tutorial and age appropriate financial fitness lessons. A post test evaluated what they have learned. Here are three of the eight public service announcements, which are still running on local cable and news channels.

4th and 5th grade honor students at a local elementary school star in the “Nest Egg” which was premiered at the second PIE Party and then aired as local drop-ins on CNN, TNT, ESPN, Nickelodeon and Bravo.

You can still find pirates along the Carolina coast, but these are friendly buccaneers and they know how to find a good deal.

Dollar Dogs features pre-teens and teens in a quandary about how to find and use their money wisely.

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Stories and Pictures of the Great Depression

For an increasingly small number of Georgetown County residents, the Great Depression is more than a series of images. “They lived through it and we want to put a local face to an event that affected the whole world,” said McInvaill. The library engaged families to create video interviews that enhance the library’s digital collection of Great Depression photos, and also inform them about basic financial literacy concepts.

Learning how to operate the equipment was part of the enticement for teens. Before cameras could roll, the teens were given a tutorial on financial fitness, covering topics like the reasons we save money, types of savings, the definition of principal, the Rule of 72 and more. They then researched the Great Depression online and each teen brought back ten facts to spark discussion of the era with a team leader.

“It was so weird, thinking that a road I travel on every day was built by the man we were interviewing,” said teens from Andrews School. “It was a WPA project and he said it is how his family kept it together one year. He couldn’t even get home to see them, except on every other weekend, when he hitchhiked.”

During a final class, teens were taught how to use cameras, tripods, microphones and lights and how to conduct an interview. “Even though they were not able to go on every interview because of school schedules, teens did learn a great deal about an epoch that doesn’t get much coverage in local schools,” said McInvaill. “And now this period of local history and irreplaceable interviews are in the library’s circulating collection.”

Preschoolers’ Parents Learn Their Numbers

Making it easy to participate is always a good idea and busy professionals appreciate the effort. The library held four childcare provider workshops for preschool owners, workers and interested parents.

The initial program about Budgeting Within the Childcare Facility and the Home was presented by the library’s partner, the Clemson Home Extension County Agency. The State of South Carolina permitted attendees to earn two SC Department of Social Services’ Credit Hours in Program Administration as an incentive for learning about smart investing.

Lesson Learned

• “We wanted to understand what people are learning by using a variety of techniques: one-on-one interviews; questionnaires; and pre-test/post-tests. We learned they respond to active learning and using activities to attract youth has been well received by them,” said McInvaill. “I really liked acting with the Nest Egg baby,” said an 11 year old Kensington Elementary student. “She was so funny! We got bookmarks about library classes and my mom went to the one about photos.”

• The PIE parties increased interest in the library, encouraged financial education and brought families out to a fun event that the whole community could enjoy.

• “Surveys conducted during the grant events will help hone future workshop topics,” said McInvaill. “They have given us ideas for stronger marketing and let us know what our patrons were thinking and this helps us strategize for future educational endeavors.”

• UPDATE: Georgetown County Council recently won the J. Mitchell Graham Memorial Award from the South Carolina Association of Counties for its groundbreaking Smart investing@your library® program.

Grants awarded in 2009; 2012


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