Richland County Public Library, Columbia, SC

Richland County Public Library worked to improve the financial literacy of low- to moderate-income residents, with a special focus on the African-American community. The library combined traditional educational activities with creative and engaging experiences for families. The library partnered with Lunch Money, a children’s band that “brings indie-rock to family audiences,” to write a children’s song about money, earning, and saving for the future, and to schedule performances integrated into the library’s story time programs and other events for young children. The library worked with higher education institutions and local schools to engage teens in creating performances and games that taught younger children financial basics. The library’s African-American History and Cultural Events Committee engaged various partners to sponsor and promote a series of family-focused financial literacy events on topics ranging from home ownership and saving for college to the basics of investing.

Key Activities: 

  • Conducted outreach activities and distributed resource materials at the Southeast Regional Black Male Summit, the Columbia Black Expo, the Richland County Public Schools, and the City of Columbia International Festival.
  • Hosted a well attended forum on “Money Matters in the African American Community.”
  • Commissioned the indie children’s rock band Lunch Money to compose and produce a song about money and savings (Shake Your Piggybank!), and premiered the song at a special children’s financial literacy event. The song was subsequently featured during in-library children’s programming and outreach visits to local schools.
  • Trained childcare providers in the county to share lessons and resource materials with families and their young children.
  • Created and distributed financial literacy kits for all elementary schools in Richland School District One.
  • Hosted family learning nights and a series of monthly family learning activities at branch locations to help families “grow their money smarts.”
  • Integrated financial literacy topics and titles into 30 family reading programs at branch libraries.
  • Integrated financial themes into the library’s summer tutorial program for below-grade-level readers.
  • Provided personal finance workshop series for adults with sessions on saving, budgeting, credit, preparing for retirement, identity theft, and investing basics. Workshops were presented with assistance from the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, Columbia College, and the University of South Carolina.
  • Established a teen advisory board for the project and delivered monthly teen programming at seven branch locations. Teen programming included a financial education comic book contest. The winning entry was a Manga-inspired comic that incorporated a wordless pictorial narrative so that even young children could understand an important message about saving money. Members of the teen advisory board also created and performed an original play for young children about money and saving. The play was incorporated into the library’s Saturday story time program.

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