New Initiatives Grant Final Report

“Nature Backpacks for Libraries”

Please provide a brief narrative explaining your project and its outcomes.

Backpack on Bookshelf with Nature Disccovery SuppliesWe purchased items and assembled circulating kits in a backpack which include binoculars, a magnifying glass and short format, engaging reading material about local flora and fauna. We informed library staff members and started circulating the Nature Backpacks in September 2020. It was difficult during COVID to get the word out to the community, though our libraries were open for takeout so we did see some circulation. Unfortunately the Onondaga County park pass program was cancelled and has yet to be brought back due to complications scheduling Zoo passes. Marketing the backpacks along with the park passes was part of the publicity strategy. On the upside branch libraries are now open to visitors and we expect the backpacks to be popular this summer as things get back to “normal”.

What is the most remarkable accomplishment or finding of your project?

Patrons have been thrilled with the backpacks appreciate the hands on nature of the kits. It took a lot of team work on behalf of staff to get this project going during COVID. Ordering the contents was more challenging than usual. Library staff members embraced the project and were helpful and positive about circulating these kits to the public. Overall I would say the excitement of the people who borrowed the kits was the highpoint. Seeing staff work so well together to make this happen during COVID was a bonus.

Please provide a brief summary of your evaluation activities and/or results, if available.

Our eight kits have circulated 20 times. All of the items have been returned in good condition so they can continue to be circulated into the future. We expect the circulation to increase this summer (2021) as more and more visitors come back to libraries and branches have them on display and the communications department resumes publicity activities.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

Love the idea of this grant. We appreciate the opportunity to try new things!

Carol Johnson

Branch Manager, Onondaga County Public Library

Are you interested in being our next New Initiatives Grant recipient? Check out theĀ grant page for the rules & requirements!