Gwinnett County Public Library is full of "Dummies," and the staff could not be happier. After winning a contest in May, GCPL collected its prize Wednesday morning – a truck full of "Dummies." Fifty boxes of the popular how-to series were delivered to the .
In celebration of its 20 years of publishing theFor Dummies® series, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. held a nation-wide contest. It challenged libraries to create a Dummies Fan Page on Facebook and gather the most "Likes" by May 1st. The story of how Gwinnett County won is like another popular book, "The Little Engine That Could." "We started the contest late," said Nancy Stanbery-Kellam, executive director for GCPL, "The contest had already been going on a month when we discovered it."
Towards the end, it came down to a three-way race between Gwinnett County and libraries in Michigan and New Jersey. "Michigan was out in front and then we just blew past them," Kellam said. When the dust settled, Runners-up were Salem-South Lyon District Library in South Lyon, MI with 3,803 Fans and Bloomfield Public library in Bloomfield, NJ with 2,418 Fans. "Gwinnett County did just the most amazing job... really blew us away," said Trudy Preston, public library representative for John Wiley & Sons, Inc. "They kept under the radar, they were real quiet about even being in the contest until right at the end."
As the grand prize winner, Gwinnett received one of every Dummies book in print – over 1,800 titles. Wednesday, Library staff and community volunteers unpacked the books and helped sort and catalog them. Each book received a special sticker thanking Facebook fans and John Wiley & Sons, Inc. for making it possible.
For two decades, the For Dummies® brand has taught readers everything from how to speak a new language, to buying a home, learning a computer program or making a meal. "The books are very accessible," said Deborah George, division director of materials management for GCPL. "That's one reason why it's been so successful because lots of customers feel that if there's a dummies book on it, then they can somehow figure it out." Kellam boasts her 11 year-old son put in his request before the books even arrived. "He made it very clear that he wants the martial arts book," added Kellam, "He wants me to put that on reserve immediately."
The value of the 1,800 books is between $40,000 and $45,000. The prize couldn't have come at a better time. Libraires across the country are suffering, and GCPL is no different. The library system was hit with a , effective July 1st, equaling $2.8 million. "We've done our best to maintain service and to find really creative and innovative ways to continue to provide the same level of service, but we're really at a breaking point," said Kellam. The need was one of the reasons John Wiley & Sons Inc. decided to do the contest. "The tougher the times, the more libraries get used, but the less money they have," Preston said. "We knew this was going to be a real motivator and it was."
Gwinnett County Public Libraries continue to receive incredible support from the community, not only in foot traffic, but also in volunteers. 3,817 people have volunteered at branches so far this year. That's a 46% increase from last year. Liz Forster, deputy director for GCPL, says volunteers are critical. "Gwinnett County Public Library circulates more books than any other libraries in Georgia," Forrester said. "We circulate 7.5 million items each year, so any help that we can get in moving those materials just helps, because we can't add staff."
The contest provided a morale boost for the library system. "It's been a fun thing to rally around,"said Kellam. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is honored to have been the reason behind the effort. "For us to be able to come to a thing like this and have all these people thanking us... it just makes me very, very proud to work for this company," said Preston.
The For Dummies® books will soon be available to check out at your .