Clackamas County Libraries Hope to Boost Circulation with Family-Friendly Raffles

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Growing success with contests featuring science kits from Clackamas-based DiscoverThis.com leads library to seek broader support from local businesses.

It's a classic vicious circle: years of decreased funding have caused the Clackamas County Library to cut hours and limit purchases of new materials; the cuts have lowered circulation rates; and because funding is tied to circulation, fewer materials checked out have meant continued budget reductions.

When the annual budget plummeted to $80,000 for fiscal year 2006-07 - down from $300,000 in previous years - the library's Board of Trustees got creative. Board member Marianne Cursetjee offered to donate science kits from her online retail business, DiscoverThis.com, and the idea for a raffle was born.

Beginning in late 2006, all three branches of the Clackamas County Library - Oak Lodge, Clackamas Corner, and Hoodland - began offering one raffle ticket for every ten items an individual or family checks out. Each month since the program began, one randomly selected winner at each location has received a science kit from DiscoverThis.com. "Everybody likes a chance to win," says Clackamas County Library Director Doris Grolbert of the program's appeal. "The Discover This prizes are a double treat because they provide educational experiences for the whole family."

Cursetjee has donated dozens of kid-friendly kits to date, including ant farms, "gross science" kits, beginning chemistry sets, solar energy kits, and more. As the former chair of the library's Board of Trustees, she's passionate about supporting the system. "Libraries are a great influence in the community and a place for kids to embrace learning and have fun reading," she says.

"Libraries are the heart of the community," adds Grolbert. "As library funding decreases, it takes a whole community to ensure that we have good resources." As the raffles gain popularity, Grolbert is working to encourage more local companies to donate prizes. "It's good for businesses to have a population that is well educated and informed," she says. "It's what our country is built on."

While Cursetjee is happy to continue donating science kits, she'd like to see other local business owners join in. "Hopefully," she says, "this is the start of a great community effort to support libraries."

About Discover This: DiscoverThis.com is a woman-owned business providing quality educational products at affordable prices. As a parent, owner Marianne Cursetjee continually seeks out the most engaging, entertaining and educational science toys and kits for children of all ages, including many that have won awards from science and parenting organizations. Cursetjee is committed to making a difference in the world not only by encouraging children to enjoy scientific discovery but by supporting educational organizations including the Clackamas County Library, SMART (Start Making A Reader Today), and others. Her personal values shine through in the promises she makes to customers, most notably that she won't sell toys that promote violence and she won't sell toys she wouldn't buy for her own children!

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