ROXBURY, NJ - In recognition of its mini-golf fundraiser events, the Roxbury Public Library was recently named the recipient of the 2020 American Library Association (ALA) Gale Cengage Learning Financial Development Award.

The annual award is presented to a library organization that exhibited meritorious achievement in carrying out a library financial development project to secure new funding resources for a public or academic library.

The award includes a check for $2,500 and a framed citation. The award will be presented Jan. 24 at the Midwinter Meeting in Indianapolis, preceding the ALA Presidents Program. 

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The winning project was “Mini-Golf in the Library.” The original goal was to raise money to fund an upgrade of the library’s A/V equipment. In the second year of the project, funds enabled the library to update the Children’s Room furniture.

Neither upgrade would have been possible within the existing operating budget cycles.

Roxbury Public Library Director Radwa Ali explained that the upgrades were part of the library’s new strategic plan to expand the caliber of programming. The library had never undertaken a dedicated fundraising event of this kind until the first Mini-Golf in 2018.

Prior to that, the Friends of the Library raised money from a membership campaign and an annual book sale. Those funds support children’s and adult programming in the library.

Ali said that, in preparation for Mini-Golf, the library reached out to the local business community for sponsorships, eventually numbering 26. Seventeen other businesses donated items for a raffle during the golf event.

Members of the Roxbury Rotary Club, the Roxbury High School Interact Club and the Roxbury Township Council volunteered in various capacities during the event. In the first year, a profit of nearly $5,000 was realized.

“The greater benefit was not the money however,” Ali said. “We established an annual event that draws local coverage and excitement from our community, and we started to build a relationship with area businesses who had never given to the library.”

The Gale Cengage Award jury of American Library Association volunteers was impressed by the goals of meeting unfunded needs of the library, the long-term potential for the project, the community involvement, and the potential for replication at other libraries.

The partnership of the library’s administration and the Friends was a plus. The Mini-Golf concept was expected to expand into a Makers Carnival, coinciding with New Jersey Makers Day, with Mini-Golf, carnival activities, and STEM focused activities.

The 2020 goal for funds raised is to establish seed money for a Library of Things, the varied contents of which would be available for businesses and community members to borrow. Contents of the collection will represent items requested by the community.

Due to safety concerns and the need to close public libraries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Carnival had to be indefinitely postponed. It was to be held on March 20 and had attracted more than 600 early bird RSVPs and more than $10,000 in sponsorship money.

The library thanked all the sponsors, including:  Spotlight Sponsor - Fullerton Grounds Maintenance; Premier Sponsors - Nisivoccia and Roxbury Rotary Club; Diamond Sponsors - Blue Diamond, Fulton Bank, TD Bank; Platinum Sponsors - American Document Solutions, Castle Printing, Cornerstone Financial Group, Inc., DeFilippis Law, Edward Jones, Fox Rothschild LLP, Investors Bank, James A. Burke Electrical Contractors, Mills & DeFilippis, Orange Carpet & Wood Gallery, Protective Systems Services, Ronetco Shop Rite, Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce, Roxbury Area Coin Club, The Polite Plumber, Western Pest Services. 

In addition, individual donations were received from Bob and Kathy DeFillippo, David and Tracy Baltz, state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco of Murphy, MCKeon, P.C.,Mark and Andie Crowley and the Roxbury Women’s Club.

TAPinto Roxbury is a media sponsor of the mini-golf events.

The award jury consisted of Susan DiMattia, DiMattia Associates, Stamford, Conn.; April Moyo, Charlotte, NC; Meggan Smith, Gettysburg College Musselman Library, Gettysburg, Pa.; Amy Dorsheimer, Nevins Memorial Library, Methuen, Mass. and Jahala Simuel, Clayton, NC.