July 12, 2023

In Their Own Voices: Testimonies from NPL Ambassadors

At Nashville Public Library Foundation, we believe that every Nashville community deserves access to adequately-funded libraries with facilities, resources, and staff to provide quality educational support, cultural programming, and economic and job development programs. Simply put, NPL is as essential to our quality of life and well-being as waste collection, water, and electricity.

A public-private partnership is critical to the success of Nashville Public Library. While we help to gather private contributions that benefit programming and expand NPL’s impact beyond the walls of its 21 branches, robust government funding is essential for the collections, resources, staff, and support that make up this community treasure. Metro funds cover a significant portion – roughly 90% – of NPL’s needs.

“When we were developing our strategic plan in 2020, we recognized that to fully pursue our mission of keeping NPL strong and relevant for everyone in Nashville, we had to figure out a plan to engage the community in advocating for increased public funds,” said Shawn Bakker, NPLF President. That same year, a handful of dedicated volunteers came together to form the NPLF Advocacy Task Force, and they have worked tirelessly to accomplish that goal.

This spring, under the leadership of Task Force Chair, Paige Clancy, the NPL Ambassadors program was launched. In less than six months, there are 130 NPL Ambassadors who have committed to share their stories of impact and convey the importance of our library system to Metro Nashville’s elected officials. From speaking at Council Meetings to sending emails and making phone calls, dozens of our ambassadors voiced their collective support for full funding of NPL in the FY24 Operating Budget. The result was an increase of $1.96M in this year’s budget!

Here are a few NPL Ambassador testimonies shared with councilmembers:

…the library stands as a beacon to our best ideals of belonging, dignity, and a shared hope that knowledge will prevail. Books really do save lives, especially when those lives are less valued than others.

As a lifelong reader and a parent, I am not exaggerating how crucial the library is to a functioning democratic society. Books are how we learn about our place in the world and how conditions we accept as normal really came to be. By protecting the library access of people from across generations and social positions, of people of all genders and creeds, our community figures out how to care for one another.  

Gianna M, Richland Park Patron

In a growing city, we continue to outpace the demands on our library system… [funding NPL’s budget] is paying social, educational, and cultural dividends for years to come.

Mark, Edgehill Branch

There are countless ways that libraries provide critical resources to the community of people that call Nashville home. From the children that grow their love of reading and learning among their shelves of books, to the adults who participate in technology, wellness or financial literacy classes to bring a better quality of life for themselves and their families.

Aleesa, Looby Branch

Nashville became my home in 1988. Throughout that time I’ve been active using the library primarily to check out books. I’ve watched the system evolve into a world class system rivaling any city!! 

This city needs a fully funded Public Library system. NPL is a foundational necessity for our city and citizens, particularly families, the young, underserved and elderly in our community.

Since retiring I’ve gained a fuller understanding of how important our library’s health and growth is to our quality of life as Davidson County residents, taxpayers and voters. 

Think outside the books!

Janice, Thompson Lane Branch

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