Money Smart Week @ your library

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Libraries are on the front lines in promoting literacy. This is especially true when it applies to financial literacy.

This week, libraries from Maine to Hawaii are helping members of their communities become money smart. April 21-28 is “Money Smart Week @ your library,” a partnership initiative between the American Library Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to expand Money Smart Week® to libraries across the country. More than 200 libraries in 36 states will present programs for all ages, and all stages of life, related to personal financial literacy.

Libraries are partnering with community groups, financial institutions, government agencies, educational organizations and other financial experts to help consumers learn to better manage their personal finances. General topic areas range from “Credit and Debt Management” to “Kid’s and Money” to “Retirement Planning” to “Savvy Shopping and Bargain Hunting.”

At the Falmouth (Maine) Memorial Library, Kate Carney, a Gorham Savings Bank security officer will present a program titled “Healthy Skepticism: Tips for Keeping Your Identity Safe.”  

The Falmouth library will also offer "Your Money in the Media: Keeping up with the right news at the right time,"  a talk by Stefan Willimann, founder of Maine News Simply, and "It’s Not About the Money! It’s all about how you think about the money," a presentation by Jane Honeck, a local Falmouth money coach and published author. 

The latter will acquaint patrons with ways of looking at their finances that maybe they haven't thought about before.

"It think (finances) are just something that we have probably taken for granted," said Andi Jackson-Darling, the library's assistant director/reference librarian.

"I just think it's a really good thing for libraries to get involved in," she said of the library's financial literacy initiatives, which include building up the library's collection of print resources and a new website the library is releasing next month that will be devoted to financial literacy.

"We have really ramped up our programming," involving members of the community talking about how people can better handle their finances.

"We're looking to build up our financial literacy resources here in the library for the community," she said, adding that it is important to get "into the public view the need for financial literacy."

In the fall, the library will be hosting a program devoted to financing a college education.

At the Hawaii State Library’s programming will include a “Money Smart Family Storytime,” that teaches kids 3 and up about money through stories and crafts.

For some libraries, programs in Spanish are important. Kern County (Calif.) Library has a session on “Curso Bancario Basico,” and Pima County (Ariz.) Library will be providing homebuyer education with “Aprende el Proceso de Comprar Casa.”

Pima County is offering workshops for everyone from children to adults, with such topics as reading credit reports, financial survival and fair housing information.

In addition, there will be storytimes for children, a crafting event where patrons can create duct tape wallets and a coupon club to promote thriftiness. Event partners are Debbi Jasperson’s Coupon Club, The Credit Wise Cats, Financial Education Collaborative of Southern Arizona, Southwest Fair Housing Council, Hughes Federal Credit Union, and the Pima County Housing Center.

"The coupon club has been really popular," said Mike Stone, a graduate assistant who is organizing the week's events for Pima County. He said one of the activities offered for teens is a budgeting course called "Pimp Your Ride," which advises them on purchasing a vehicle.

"This is our first year participating, and I think there is a lot of community support down here for financial education," Stone said. "Pima County Public Library is really involved in the community, and there is definitely a need for financial education."

The events, which began Saturday, have been well attended, he said, adding that there has been support from the Pima County Board of Supervisors, which proclaimed April as Financial Literacy Month.

In putting the events together, one of the library's goals was to offer as much Spanish-language programming as possible.

"Down here in Tuscon, you almost have to be bilingual to get by around here," he said. 

Money Smart Week @ your library is not just for public libraries. The Chester Fritz Library at the University of North Dakota is hosting a program for faculty, students and staff on “Money Smart—Understanding Credit Scores and Cash Tiers.”

“The Chicago Fed is proud to partner with ALA to leverage Money Smart Week as a platform for financial education across the country. Libraries are leading by example in communities everywhere and providing critical access to consumers regarding money management,” said Alejo Torres, Senior Outreach Program Manager, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Visit your library this week to see what Money Smart or financial literacy programs are being offered. A map of events is available at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago website.


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