Emmet O’Neal Library, Mountain Brook, AL

Emmet O’Neal Library partnered with faculty from the University of Alabama-Birmingham to deliver educational experiences related to advanced personal finance topics, such as: understanding global financial markets; investing in stocks and bonds; conducting investment research; and selecting financial professionals. For residents in or nearing retirement, the project helped participants examine Medicare options and other insurance-related decisions. For early-career adults in their 20s and 30s, the library used a “Table Talk$” format featuring conversational seminars at reception-like gatherings. Table Talk$ addressed saving and investing for major life goals, such as buying a house or starting a family. Teen programming focused on how to save for college and how to make appropriate financial decisions while in college. Seminars helped teens understand the connections among choice of major, earning potential following graduation, and how much is too much to borrow.

Key Activities: 

  • Worked with finance faculty from the University of Alabama to conduct educational programs for adults. Topics included: understanding the U.S. banking system and the FDIC; understanding the stock market; understanding global markets; the importance of portfolio diversification; what you need to know about annuities; bond investing; socially responsible investing; pensions and Social Security; and the long-term economic outlook.
  • Conducted “Table Talk$” (conversational seminars at reception-like gatherings) on: finances for newlyweds; personal finance 101; paying off debt; and financial management for the self-employed. The target audience comprised adults in their 20s and 30s. University of Alabama faculty opened the Table Talk$ with 10 main points related to the topic for the evening. This was followed by less structured conversations and interactions with and among the participants.
  • Conducted teen seminars on: determining the true cost of college; paying for college; student loans, credit cards, and managing debt; understanding the return on investment for various college majors; and budgeting for everyday expenses while in college. These programs were coordinated in partnership with guidance counselors from local schools and with the library’s Teen Advisory Board. The programs were marketed under the theme “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Student Debt.” Participants literally dressed for their parts. They received letters of acceptance from Hogwarts with detailed information about yearly costs, and worked through scenarios for meeting these costs. Additionally, college counselors talked with the students about real-life college expenses and how to choose a college that fits their needs. Students received tutorials on paying for college and searching for scholarships. All teen programming was social and hands-on.
  • Created a “pop-up shop” and conducted personal finance outreach programming at the local Jewish Community Center, the Mountain Brook swimming pool, a local fitness center, and on the library lawn. Selected programming was co-sponsored by the local chamber of commerce.

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