Toledo Lucas County Public Library awarded for excellence in reference services

The Toledo Lucas County Public Library was selected as the 2018 winner of the Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Services, sponsored by ReferenceUSA, for the Spending Smarter page.  As a one-stop shop for personal finance, investment and referral information for northwest Ohio, Living Better, Spending Smarter was developed in collaboration by Melissa Jeter, Adult Services Librarian and  Linda Koss, Grant Specialist, Business Technology Services, with the idea that vetted, full text information would available in an online environment, rather than a traditional bibliography.

While they respect the in-depth information of printed works, they know that many people needing financial information prefer getting it immediately, without any further steps in information gathering. Living Better, Spending Smarter allows them to do this with trusted sources that are updated in a timely fashion. It can be used by librarians as well as the patrons of the library.

As a result of a survey of librarians, it was uncovered that they felt uncomfortable with their grasp of library materials, and uncertain of local referral resources. They worked to create an online guide that would pull together information about the library’s online resources, reliable, free sources from the Internet, and a listing of local financial resources to which they could refer their customers. In addition, collaboration was made with community organizations focused on financial literacy to create a resource that would be a clearinghouse for local resources with the follow-up instructions to update the information regularly. Moreover, they researched financial consumer information from state and federal organizations.

Thus, the information that is included in the resource is information that is currently in use by personal finance, consumer advocates of organizations such as the Federal Trace Commission (FTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as well as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Melissa Jeter conducts reference services, including assistance with computers and e-readers and tablets, implements programming, including book discussions on current and relevant social issues. She keeps abreast of possible information needs of adult users through reference and program activities, conducts research, and develops corresponding programming. She has recently published the following financial literacy articles/chapters to contribute to the profession of librarianship:

“Best Practices to Implement Financial Literacy in a Large Public Library.” The Library’s Role in Supporting Financial Literacy for Patrons May 2016 publisher: Rowan and Littlefield;
“Presenting Financial Literacy in Conferences to Public Librarians.” The Library’s Role in Supporting Financial Literacy for Patrons May 2016 publisher: Rowan and Littlefield;
“Best Practices of Adult Financial Literacy in a Large Public Library System” American Library Association. BRASS Business Reference in Public Libraries Committee, 2014

Linda Koss is the creator of No Free Money, a website on finding legitimate financial resources for individuals. She presented programs on searching for individual funding for the Ohio Library Council’s regional conferences in 2006. She wrote “Free Money, Free Stuff” for American Libraries in 2003, and “Nonprofit Sharing” for Library Journal in 2007. She was also the head of TLCPL’s Financial Literacy Committee from 2014-2017, and headed the ALA/FINRA Foundation’s “Smart Investing @ Your Library” FINRA grant program, and the FINRA Foundation’s “Thinking Money” exhibit in Toledo. Along with Melissa Jeter, she gave presentations at Ohio Library Council’s regional conferences on financial literacy. She writes a regular column, “In the Trenches,” for her union’s newsletter.

Established in 1990, the RUSA Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Library Services, sponsored by ReferenceUSA is a citation and $1,500* monetary award presented to a library or library system for developing an imaginative and unique resource to meet patrons’ reference needs.  The award will be presented at RUSA’s President’s Program, featuring Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, on Saturday, June 23 at ALA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans. Additionally, on July 18, RUSA will host a free, moderated webinar to feature a Q&A with the winners to learn of their outstanding legacies and contributions to librarianship.

The selection committee includes: Suzanne Odom (Chair), Phillip Ballo, Rebecca Jackson and Kelly S. Janousek.


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