Pelham Public Library

The Pelham Public Library’s program, Road Map to Financial Freedom is reaching out to adults, teens and children in this modest suburb of Birmingham, AL. Partnerships with several local universities, the high school and Valley Elementary School have led to shared staff training and increased programming that expands beyond the constituents of each organization.

Staff Training Stars

Training for Pelham Library staff was delivered in collaboration with their own reference staff and business reference staff from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jeffrey Graveline, Associate Librarian and Reference Librarian for Business said, “Most of the staff were not investors themselves and they are now able to share their new knowledge about online sources with the library’s patrons.” Pre and post tests assessed knowledge and two-thirds of the participating librarians rated the training excellent and post-test showed a 37-75% increase from pre-training knowledge levels.

Teens Get A Reality Check

The library sponsored Reality Check program was presented at the high school and through their Family and Consumer classes for youth ages 15-19. Reality Check is built around simulated activities that illustrate what life is like as an adult, working for a living, paying bills, and being financially independent. Teens are given a career, level of education, a family situation, and a monthly salary. Students participating in this program are working class kids who are not college bound and they will be looking for employment and directly entering the workforce after graduation. Instructors from Jefferson State Community College trained senior citizen volunteers to assist in the simulation activities for the nearly 360 students who participated in the four day program. “As a college educator, the value of a partnership between a community college with a public library creates a wonderful opportunity for parents and children and all community stakeholders to benefit from the expanded knowledge that is an outcome of that proactive collaboration,” said Mildred Lanier, Liberal Arts and Business Instructor at Jefferson State Community College.

Children Can Bank on Books

The Bank on Books program grew out of an ongoing partnership between the library and the Valley Elementary School for children in kindergarten through 2nd grade.

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Children are encouraged to read as many books as they can in the 16 days of the program. The library provides “Book Bucks” which can be used to “buy” prizes and incentives for children who use the library. A grand prize is awarded for the class in each grade that reads the most books- a financially themed story time. To build excitement for the program, 800 children attended an assembly with a juggler riding a unicycle and delivering a message about money. Parents also got into the act with packets brought home by their kids with an invitation to visit the library and earn bucks that they could use toward overdue fees, to buy items in the library book sale or to pay for copies. With the whole family reading, the library’s bulletin board display of kids’ photos quickly filled up with “Million Dollar Readers.”

Lesson Learned

• “Reality Check was a real eye-opener. The program made teens
stop and think about how the financial decisions they make now will
determine what kind of life they will lead.” said Library
Director, Barbara Roberts.

• Library staff makes a conscious effort to pick locations where
the target audience already frequents. By providing programming for
children, such as Bank on Books program, the library was able to
reach a new target audience, encourage good financial habits and also
reach parents through their children.

• Flexibility and feedback are a good combination for success. “We
had originally considered more programs at the library but feedback from
patrons convinced us to change,” said Roberts.

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.