Springfield, MO

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Library, Federal Reserve to teach money smarts

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Tight economic times have people seeking information on how to stretch their dollars.

In response, Springfield-Greene County Library District is teaming with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to offer Money Smart Week events April 2–9.
Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign to help consumers manage their personal finances.

“We’ve seen larger numbers of users and we’re providing programs to help people with basic needs – résumé writing, things like that,” said Jim Schmidt, the library’s associate director.  

On Nov. 12, library officials learned about Money Smart Week events conducted in other parts of the country during a presentation by Tiffany M. Butler, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s outreach coordinator for public affairs.

“We heard about the program from other library districts, but we hadn’t ever participated,” Schmidt said. “It really essentially speaks to the things that we want to do as a library in trying to bring the best information to the average library user. We can all, in tough times, use all the help we can get financially.”

The Fed Reserve Bank of Chicago started Money Smart Week events eight years ago, while programs in Wisconsin, Iowa and Detroit are five years’ running, and Indiana has completed three years, Butler said. This year, the program partnered with the American Library Association to take efforts nationwide.

The local agreement is the Federal Reserve Bank’s first in Missouri.

“We’ve seen how successful it has been,” Schmidt said.

Resources offered for the events include rights to use the name, logo and promotional materials; planning and operational documents; use of the online database and; and ongoing consultation from Federal Reserve Bank staff.

Organizations that participate in Money Smart Week can customize their week of activities following Federal Reserve Bank guidelines. In Chicago, for example, a man dressed as Ben Franklin walks the streets handing out free financial literacy fliers, and bags of shredded dollar bills that were taken out of service are distributed.

Butler said Chicago’s efforts produced 228 adult programs in 2007; 323 in 2008; 383 in 2009; and 501 in 2010. The programs this year averaged 16.1 participants apiece.

Up to 20,000 people pass through the local library district’s doors daily, Butler said, a figure that makes it a powerful vehicle for Money Smart Week.

“You guys have the network,” Butler added. “You know people at banks, you know people at credit unions. These are all the people who come together to make Money Smart Week work.”
While still in the planning stages, Schmidt said achieving individual participation and community partnership for the weeklong events are among first-year goals.

“It will be districtwide, accessible to everybody in a variety of formats,” Schmidt said, adding that library officials held a planning meeting Nov. 18 with representatives of BancorpSouth, Commerce Bank, Guaranty Bank, Metro Credit Union, Consumer Credit Counseling Service and Community Partnership.

While unsure how Metro Credit Union would participate, President Kathie Peterie said the program is a good opportunity for the library.

“Financial education is critical, just a critical part of everyday life,” Peterie  said. “Anything that’s going to help people understand things as simple as balancing their checking account, how to budget and how to manage credit scores – any tools that you can provide to help empower themselves in money matters is beneficial.”

Plans for the weeklong celebration must be turned in to the Federal Reserve by Dec. 1.[[In-content Ad]]


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