By Cheryl Lubow, Librarian, State Library of Ohio
Find Help in Tough Times launched in June, 2009. While paging through a library journal one day, State Librarian Jo Budler read about the New Jersey State Library's website gathering information from state agencies and nonprofits to help people get through tough economic times. She realized that creating an Ohio resource, similar to http://gethelp.njlibraries.org, was a perfect project for the State Library of Ohio. Jo pulled together a brainstorming session, inviting staff with marketing, research services, and information technology experience. After deciding on a temporary project name and basic categories to structure the new resource, the group got to work.
Marsha McDevitt-Stredney, Director of Marketing & Communications, designed a logo. Six librarians began identifying agencies specializing in employment, financial, wellness, and housing help, as well as resources uniquely designed for seniors and parents. A seventh general information category was later added. During the resource-gathering portion of the project, the State Library's intranet served as a temporary location to store agency and nonprofit descriptions and links. Information technology staff used the open source content management system Drupal, known for its collaboration properties, to create the project website.
When the website was ready, the next step in the process was publicity. The Find Help in Tough Times logo was added to the State Library's home page and announcements were placed in the newsletter and on WebJunction Ohio. Bookmarks were created and instructions enabling libraries to link to the project were placed on the Find Help in Tough Times website. The project committee planned and held a webinar so that librarians could learn about programs and publications directly from state agencies. Eight agencies and over thirty librarians participated.
The State Library staff who gathered the initial categories of links has continued to look for additional resources and monitor links, looking for any changes. Librarians around the state have been invited to give feedback and share their success stories of patrons using these resources.
Left: An example of one of the resource links on FHTT