Skip to Main Content

The University of Tennessee

School of Information Sciences

Frequently Used Tools:

INSC 554

Main Navigation:

Danny Hussey
3. Service to Assess/Evaluate


This research project will study the Obion County Public Library (OCPL) which serves Union City Tennessee and the surrounding county of Obion. The official population area served by the library is 31,340 people ( This project will study the various methods available for charitable giving at the library. The study will provide a concise overview of available giving options and explore how the processes relate to user-centered issues such as availability, accessibility, and incentives to give from the user perspective.

3.1 Identify a specific service(s), program(s), collection(s), facilities, and/or other activities to assess/evaluate in your PL.

Often times when we think about philanthropy we see it as the desire to benefit humanity and to improve the material, social, spiritual, and overall welfare of others. Charitable giving encompasses philanthropic objectives and other that influence all aspects of library operations. There are an increasing number of large estates today due to the compounding effects of wealth. Generations of wealth have been created from new industries and technology (Hodge, 2009). The number of potential donees and prospects are increasing in volume. Currently the Obion County Public Library outlines (5) methods of giving in the library policy. These methods addressed will each be assessed and evaluated as to gain further insight into their effectiveness. These giving methods include:
• Donating Items and Materials
• Memorial Giving
• Cash Gifts
• Library Foundation Charitable Gifts (Gifts over $1,000)
• Planned Gifts
A charitable giving program can help enable a library to better fulfil its mission. Most charitable investments want to maximize benefits and return. These returns can be donor objectives such as enriching a family legacy or tax incentives ( Construction of a methodical financial plan is important in major charitable giving. An effective charitable giving program should create a wide range of gift options. Gifts from charitable donations may not immediately be apparently beneficial, but these programs strengthen your annual capital giving programs as well as solicit the option to give.

3.2 Describe the selected PL service. Analyze the selected PL service in relation to user-centered issues (who and how many users use the service, how often is the service used, strengths/weaknesses of the PL service, etc.).

This section of the analysis will explore the frequency of the identified charitable giving methods outlined within the library policy. Next, an evaluation of the financial records and donor information will be explored as to help identify the library users than have given previously. Lastly, the analysis will evaluate the user-centered perceptive and explore any strength and weaknesses identified by evaluations submitted by charitable donors within the past fiscal year. Data represented within each giving method was taken from the Obion County Public Library Foundation Financial Records from fiscal year 2012 – 2014.
Donating Items and Materials
The criteria to determine whether or not the library accepts particular donated items and materials are at the discretion of the library director, according to the library policy. Many times due to limited space the library cannot accept artifacts, art objects, unless they are of outstanding local historical significance. Library gift items such as books, magazines, and manuscripts are always accepted but documentation provided during the donation process describes that items are not guaranteed to enter the library collection. Often times materials are handed over to the Friends of the Library who gauge the quality and value the item may serve in the library collection. If the title is old, or a duplicate title already in the collection, it will be entered as a book sale item. During this process the user is given a small sheet of paper which outlines these details. In the past, library users have complained of donating materials then checking to see if the book enters the collection, several times in 2014 patrons addressed discontent that they did not see the donated item enter circulation. In October of 2013 another user complained in the library evaluation box that they did not see a series of children’s books enter the children’s circulation which they had donated. The information that is provided upon each donation describes that often times items will not enter the collection yet many users still struggle with understanding why a donated item did not go into the collection. This is the most noteworthy disconnect between users and the organization in regards to donating items and materials.
Patrons leave positive feedback about receiving itemized tax receipt documents given to donors per request. If requested, the librarian will itemize each item donated within a provided tax exemption document and supply it to the user making the donation ( This process benefits the individual donating items as they have individual record of each donated item. No record keeping if kept other than documented tax itemization records per user per request. This makes gauging the frequency of donations difficult as it is hard to determine when donating materials is most prevalent and by what user group donations of materials come from.
Memorial Giving
A Memorial Gift to the Library is a meaningful and lasting way to remember a loved one. A Memorial Gift is a tribute to celebrate a birthday, honor a graduate, commemorate an anniversary, or memorialize a loved one in passing. Memorial gifts usually go towards material purchases for adult, teen, or children’s materials. Large gift memorials can go towards larger items for the library, like furniture, technology, or other items that a donor may be interested in helping to provide. Memorials do not have a minimum or maximum amount, but gifts over $1,000 are typically identified as Library Foundation gifts. The chart below shows the frequency of Memorial Gifts for fiscal year 2012 – 2014.
In this category over 80% of the of gifts made memorialize deceased loved ones. The chart above shows a higher ratio of gifts given earlier in the year and some identification of reduction in Memorial Gifts near the end of the year near the Christmas Holiday. The Memorial Giving brochure outlines the process of gift giving. Several studies have risen in the past years indicating death rates increase around the months of December and January. Specifically, David Phillips, a professor in the sociology department at UC San Diego, and his team looked at the number of people who died in emergency settings and those who were considered dead on arrival between 1979 and 2004. They found a spike in deaths near the end and beginning of each year (Phillips, 2010). When discussed with the head genealogist at the Obion County Public Library, she agreed that she often sees higher rates of obituaries in December and January, more so than any other month of the each year. This gives rise to the question, “Are people memorializing the death of loved once within the following months of increased mortality rates in the area?” Could this account for higher Memorial averages early in the year? Could the stress of holidays and cold weather increase the likelihood of mortality of loved ones during this time? Much of this is speculation and more research and analysis into this notion would need to be pursued to actively quantify this notion.
Cash Gifts
Cash gifts account for the smaller portion of library donations. These gifts usually come in the form of excess payment at the point of sale in the library. An example of this is someone being charged $1.50 in prints and handing the librarian $5.00 and telling her to keep the change. The library then enters the sale amount of $1.50, and then adds an additional entry of $3.50 as Cash Gift. Last year, $385.00 in total cash gifts were recorded by the point of sale cash register.

Library Foundation Charitable Gifts (Gifts over $1,000)
Library Foundation gifts are large gifts over $1,000. The graph below illustrates the frequency of these gifts. Three major gifts given to the library in 2013 – 2014 overshadow the rest as these donations were made by one major donor for a major building project completing this year. These gifts equated to nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Major gifts such as these are identified with the Library Giving Tree. To perform a user-centered analysis in regards to the giving tree, a librarian from another library was asked to secret shop the library. She was asked to write down what she saw and learned in regards to charitable giving. The most noteworthy aspect of her evaluation was entering the front doors of the organization and noticing the large 10’ x 15’ carved wooden oak tree with bronze and silver plates and insignia inscribing various individuals’ organizations and businesses. The plaque below the tree informs the viewer that the large stones equaled $100,000 dollars in donations, medium stones equated to $50,000 dollar donations, small stones equal $25,000, Golden acorn’s equaled $10,000 in donations, and the brown acorns are worth $5,000 in donations. This giving tree brochure outlined various steps of giving and another brochure informs the donor of the various benefits of giving to the library. This brochure uses a combination approach that describes the value donations have for donors, such as tax incentives, and opportunity to leave a family legacy, but also described the benefit that major donations have for the library and greater community.
Planned Gifts
These gifts are usually constructed to begin upon an individual’s death, but that is not always the case. Planned giving financial vehicles at the library include, but are not limited to:
• life income plans
• charitable remainder unitrust and annuity trusts
• pooled income funds
• charitable gift annuities
• charitable lead trusts and revocable trusts
• life estates or gifts of personal residence with retained life interest
• gifts of life insurance
• bequests
No planned gift has been made since 2010, when a certificate of deposit was issued to the library by a chartable donor.

3.3 Discuss the relative importance of this PL service. How much difference does it make in the success of your PL organization or in the quality of life in the community served by the agency?

In 2003, the Obion County Public Library received a charitable donation of $2.6 million to construct a new public library. This planned gift was endowed by Bill and Carol Latimer and created a new award- winning public library facility for the people of a rural West Tennessee. Charitable donations do not have to be in the millions of dollars to make impacts, although this donation changed every aspect of library programs and services rendered by the institution. Donations do not supplement yearly appropriated budgets, but can empower the library to extend its services deeper into communities ( Each year the Children’s Summer Reading Program is provided by donations from individual donors and businesses. Technology for public use, access to genealogical research tools, and developing the library collection are major ways donations help to empower the library and community. Planned gifts such as the certificate of deposit received in 2010 by the Obion County Public Library, help to pay for the addition of an additional Children’s Library in the children’s department (Obion County Public Library Financial Report 2013 - 2014). A well-developed charitable giving program can help perpetuate a library’s mission far into the future.

3.4 Define the selected PL service you are assessing/evaluating by listing keywords that are associated with it. Which word(s) would you use in searching for information about this service? Tag the most productive subject term.

As this assessment is about charitable giving opportunities at the Obion County Public Library, there are many possible keywords associated with it. From phrases such as the broad: donations, support, charitable, giving, tree, donate, gift. Other more specific keywords may include: life, income, plans, charitable, remainder, unitrust, annuity, trusts, pooled income, funds, annuities, lead, trusts, revocable, life, estates, insurance, and bequests.

3.5 What are the existing ways that the PL provides information about the selected PL service? (in the physical library environment and on the web). Is there effective advertising/marketing of the PL service? Rank the ways that users find information about the selected PL service?

The Obion County Public Library publicizes its charitable giving opportunities through print, on-line, and word of mouth marketing. Very rarely are links featured on library social media pages such as Twitter or Facebook. Very little signage exists outside of the Giving Tree area signage. This signage area also includes a printed handout which describes the charitable giving options available at the library. This pamphlet is limited in scope and is not professionally printed. Other printed handout about donating materials, itemized tax receipts, and details about cash gifts are found within a printed handout behind the circulation desk. These brochures are administered when patrons ask about giving opportunities. The librarians do not know details about the specific ways to give. The website includes a ‘Support the Library’ tab which includes a list of giving opportunities ( This area of the site also includes volunteer information, which is known to confuse many users as noted in website evaluations performed in 2010 on user groups reporting on the library website experience. The conjoining of volunteerism and charitable giving within the site dilutes each aspect and adds confusion to the user experience. More thorough information about giving and a dedicated area that describes charitable giving opportunities is needed within the website.

3.6 Discuss the interest users of the PL or other members of the community might have in this PL service. How much actual and potential demand exists for it? What events or sources are likely to stimulate interest in this PL service? What is the likely life of this interest?

The number of potential donees and prospects are increasing in volume. Not only is the number of accessible donors increasing but the sizes of the wealth stockpiles are increasing also (Hodge, 2009). Intergenerational wealth is transferring at increased rates. Wealth is more accessible than ever for rural libraries due to 74 million baby boomers coming of age. Estimates today reveal that if the number of baby boomer coming of age were to give just 2 percent of their estimated wealth away, it could equal revenue in excess of $500 billion to $1 trillion in new gifts for charity (Schultz, 2014). As noted in assignment 2 of this study, the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey for 2013 shows that 26.4% of the population served is over the age of 55. The proportions of library users are skewed toward patrons over the age of 55, making it the largest population and primary audience for charitable giving. These users accounts for approximately 13,370 library cards found in the library system records. This means that added emphasis, cultivation, and development of charitable giving options must be implemented and further developed at the Obion County Public Library.

3.7 Identify, evaluate, and come to a conclusion on alternative resources/agencies that provide such services. Where might potential users go for this service IF your PL did not exist and did not provide this service? To what degree do alternative sources minimize the need for such a service? Using appropriate alternative resources (both offline and online), indicate the degree to which affordable, useful, and recent resources provide similar services.

Charitable giving programs are becoming increasingly attractive to nonprofit institutions due to various key factors within the field. Charitable giving programs compete with one another often. Several other institutions offer giving opportunities that create meaningful impacts and help to create a legacy for donors. Other organizations within the community such as churches, universities, various not-for-profit institutions are available to accept charitable donations as well as the library. Many times churches may see the bulk of charitable donations and planned giving in form of bequests or incorporation of the institution within wills. Although these organizations, to some extent, compete with the library in receipt of such donations, the library has still been able to gather significant contributions. These other institutions do not minimize the need for the library charitable donation program, but do require that the library giving programs be accessible and effective. Technology has made today’s modern library charitable giving practices more efficient, creative, and able to meet the demands and expectations of many organizations that pursue charitable giving methods. It is becoming easier and more lucrative than ever to implement a successful charitable giving program. Many aspects of charitable giving are moving at a faster pace. Electronic mail, faxes, mobile telephones, and computer software make raising significant sums of money, identifying new charitable giving prospects, and meeting with donors and prospects more flexible and more accessible than ever (Jordan & Quynn, 2002). These changes give rural libraries a greater edge in regards to sustaining a charitable giving program and winning major gifts for rural not-for-profit institutions.

3.8 Reviewing the variables mentioned above, does it seem reasonable to gather user-centered feedback to assess/evaluate the selected PL service? Provide a strong justification statement.

Yes, as noted previously charitable giving programs are becoming increasingly attractive to nonprofit institutions. As the number of potential donees and prospects continue to increase in volume, so does the quantity, quality, and frequency of other charitable giving opportunities in the area. This makes gathering user centered feedback, assessment, and evaluation more important than ever, as more and more organizations continue to compete with one other for potential donors. This justification of thorough evaluation helps guide important decision making about implementation methods of existing and further charitable giving programs and services. The rationale for the validity of assessment if further exemplified when the user group relevant to this services is reviewed. The U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey for 2013 shows that 26.4% of the population served is over the age of 55. The proportions of library users are skewed toward patrons over the age of 55, making it the largest population and primary audience for charitable giving. The number of potential donees and prospects are increasing in volume. Not only is the number of accessible donors increasing but the sizes of the wealth stockpiles are increasing also (Hodge, 121). Intergenerational wealth is transferring at increased rates. Wealth is more accessible than ever for rural libraries due to 74 million baby boomers coming of age. The Obion County Public library must continue to assess user interaction with charitable giving programs in place currently, and further develop charitable giving opportunities at the library.


Hodge, J.M., & Richardson, D. B. “The Role of Planned Giving”. Journal of Library Administration, 121-134.
Husock, H. (2013, November 19). 60 Minutes And The Gates-Buffett 'Giving Pledge': What They Got Right--and Wrong. Forbes. Retrieved July 12, 2014, from
Jordan, R. R., & Quynn, K. L. (2002). Planned giving for small nonprofits. New York: Wiley.
Obion County Public Library. (2014). Obion County Public Library.
Obion County Public Library Financial Report. Yearly Report 2013 – 2014. Union City, TN: Author.
Obion County Public Library Financial Report. Yearly Report 2012 – 2013. Union City, TN: Author.
Phillips, D., Barker, G., & Brewer, K. (n.d.). Christmas and New Year as risk factors for death. Social Science & Medicine, 1463-1471. Retrieved February 26, 2015, from
Schultz, K. Planned giving is alive and well!. Planned Giving Today, 22, 1. Retrieved June 9, 2014,
U.S. Census Bureau. 2010-2013. American Community Survey. Obion County, Tennessee. Retrieved on June 5, 2014 from
U.S. Census Bureau. 2008-2012. American FactFinder. Retrieved on June 5, 2014 from

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

451 Communications Building, 1345 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0341