Westfield Launches Westfield Washington Library Foundation
Photographer/ Ryan Woodall
With nearby Westfield High School on one side and Westfield Middle School in close proximity to the other, the Westfield Washington Public Library (WWPL) sits at 333 West Hoover Street. It offers an extensive amount of activities and programs and serves as an anchor to busy, growing Westfield as a community center. In order for the library to keep step in serving the diverse demands of the city, the library board initiated the Westfield Washington Library Foundation.
“The foundation was launched in August,” says Erin Downey, Executive Director. “The library board developed a strategic plan last spring. They realized that with all the growth going on in Westfield, the monies the library receives from taxes weren’t keeping pace. An organization was needed not only to increase awareness of the special things that the library does but also to help raise funds.”
Downey’s diverse career background is not directly related to library science, nevertheless, she has an appreciation for what the library contributes to the community. After graduating from Butler University with a degree in management, she was employed in the corporate field for several years. Then, she returned to school, studied interior design and worked in the industry for 15 years.
“I was ready to try something different when WWPL director Sheryl Sollars approached me about the executive director position for the foundation,” she says. “My husband, Patrick, serves on the library board and I had been bringing my daughter there for tutoring over the past year. While spending time I saw all the wonderful things the staff was doing and the great things going on for people of all ages and interests. The idea of the foundation tugged at my heartstrings.”
Downey worked closely with Sollars to staff the foundation board with a varied spectrum of talent and backgrounds. Board members were chosen for individual strengths such as technology, copywriting, editing, social media knowledge and the ability to communicate with the community. Current members are Kurt Beier, Blue and Company, Joel Bruns, Westfield High School Innovation Specialist, Julie Cooley, IMMI, Brian Heaton, Krieg Devault LLC, Susan Nixon, Independent Contractor, Marketing and Content Developing, and Mike Thomas, Butler University.
The foundation goals of developing avenues of funding, raising awareness and community involvement work hand-in-hand with each other. While currently seeking out corporate sponsors, the board is also cultivating private donations and public fundraisers. They recently reached out to Westfield High School graphic arts and art classes and held a competition for a representative logo. Currently, the foundation is gearing up for and is hopeful that the community will donate to WWPL on Giving Tuesday, held this year on December 3.
“In November we are raffling off three beautifully decorated Christmas trees,” Downey says. “The raffle will go on from November 1 through the 30th and tickets are $10 apiece. Each tree is different and unique. The decorations are supplied by corporate sponsor donations.”
A huge aspect of WWPL is its role as a community center. It is both a source of entertainment and education. Programing options span from the expected story hour for preschoolers all the way to Mahjong sessions for senior ladies. There are many clubs offered for teens such as Anime Manga and Gaming Corner. Special events have included summer camps for elementary students and the showing of exotic animals. Many classes that are held at the facility and include English as a Second Language, computer skills and acrylic painting. A complete list of all activities can be found on the WWPL website, WWPL.Lib.In.Us.
“There is a misconception that no one goes to the library anymore,” Downey adds. “During the time I have spent there, I have seen our library being used for so many different purposes and activities. WWPL has 16,000 visitors per month. Middle school and high school students can walk to it after school.
“Who doesn’t love a library? It’s just a wonderful place to come and spend some time,” she adds. “Last year, WWPL offered 1,900 free programs and thousands of people participated in them. It’s so much more than just books.”
For donations and more information, email Erin Downey at EDowney@wwpl.in.us. You can give the library a call at 317-896-9391.