The CIP Spotlights Local Libraries
Why does one go to the local library? Some seek a place to read quietly, some go to use a computer, and some, including Elks, use it as a setting to build stronger communities.

Many Lodges use Spotlight Grants to meet the needs of young people, help develop literacy, and showcase the opportunities and resources libraries have to offer. National Library Week is a chance to recognize how CIP grants can make the local library a true community center.

In 2022, the community of Templeton, Calif., had been trying to open a library for more than two decades. The Templeton Community Library Association worked its way through roadblocks, including the loss of public funding, to open the Templeton Library in January 2023. This volunteer-staffed and donation-funded operation has thrived in the past year with support from the area, including a nearby Elks Lodge.

Paso Robles, Calif., Lodge No. 2364 used a Spotlight Grant to help fill the bookshelves of the Templeton Library and provide winter clothing items to local students with a Warm Welcome to the Library project. The library is located between the elementary and high schools, making it a natural after-school destination. The children picked their favorite color of gloves and browsed new books in English and Spanish.

“This new collection of books made possible by the grant has sparked an interest in the community to borrow books and improve the literacy of the whole family,” says Grants Coordinator Barbara Hofer. “A number of children enlisted their parent’s help in getting a library card. This seemed to spark an interest among their parents to also apply for a library card.”

With previously empty bookshelves now filled and cold hands covered, Hofer said that the Lodge was honored to partner with the new community library.

“Most of us have families that have attended local schools and benefitted from the local library’s resources,” says Hofer. “The Lodge also has a number of teachers, nurses, and other professionals who understand the need for resources when you are a student.”

Other Spotlight Grant projects have helped community members recognize the library as an important resource for education and recreation. Manahawkin, N.J., Lodge No. 2340 partnered with a local library branch to host an event for participants in the Main Street Alliance Youth Program, where children picked out books and received bags of food for their families. While this was a Hunger Relief project, the Manahawkin Lodge wanted to highlight the library as a friendly community space for families. The event included interactive stories, arts and crafts, and presentations on how they could get involved in library programs.

“The children were excited, enthusiastic, and wanted to come back the next day,” says Grants Coordinator Sharon McGovern. “Library staff had very creative ideas and thoroughly enjoyed the time with the children.”

This collaboration between different community groups proved to be positive for all involved—each made new connections, and the kids found a new home in the library.

“The Lodge loved it. The community loved it,” says McGovern. “Overall, it was a remarkable collaboration of community partners to promote youth literacy and provide hunger relief.”

Deming, N.M., Lodge No. 2750 uses a Spotlight Grant to host an annual Warm Welcome to the Library event in January. The Lodge has partnerships with the school district, government agencies and homeless shelters—when parents and individuals approach these groups seeking assistance during the winter season, they in turn approach the Lodge.

By focusing part of the event on adults, the project emphasizes other library resources. After providing the clothing, Lodge members show attendees how the computers can be used to complete job applications and secure other assistance.

“Elks had the duty to welcome and assist these community members by identifying their need and assisting with what we had to offer,” says Grants Coordinator Yvonne Perales. “Not only did it serve a great need, it also showcased the community efforts of our Lodge.”

These examples are just a few of the many ways Lodges can support those in need through the local library. There are answers to many questions within the library’s walls—one of which may just be, “how should we use our CIP grants?”

CIP grant applications opened on April 1. For more information on the grants we offer, check out our Grant Toolkits. The CIP can be reached with any questions at 773/755-4730 or