The Ottumwa Courier

January 3, 2013

Investment program on the shelves at library

Ottumwa one of 18 libraries approved for Smartinvesting@ yourlibrary

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Any librarian will tell you there’s a lot to learn at your local library. But an upcoming program will be the first time the Ottumwa Public Library will teach you how to grow your own money.

“Part of the library’s mission is to educate our community members,” said Sonja Ferrell, the Ottumwa library director.

By having an objective party provide investment education, members of the public know they won’t be influenced by one company or another hawking their own products.

Smartinvesting@yourlibrary is sponsored by FIRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and the American Library Association,” Ferrell said. “They go around the country offering grants, and the State Library of Iowa received a large grant.”

Ottumwa applied this year and was one of 18 libraries in Iowa to be approved. Ottumwa was also one of the largest communities to have the program scheduled.

“The classes are actually divided into three tracks based on generation,” Ferrell said.

There’s young people in their 20s or 30s just heading into the work world, those approaching retirement and people who have already retired. But all six one-day classes can benefit everyone.

“We’re learning a lot from the library in Ames and how they went through the program [last year],” said Ferrell.

She said her favorite example from Ames involved a grandfather who brought his two teenage grandchildren to every class. During the last class, there was a type of pop quiz given by the instructors, and the kids were getting all the questions right.

“He gave each child $100 so they could invest like they learned in the course,” Ferrell said. “It’s not just retirement. It shows all the basic investments: stocks and bonds, savings accounts, CDs. And material shows if you invest a certain amount now, it’ll show how much it’ll be worth in 30 years.”

Though she’s learning a lot about the subject of investing, Ferrell said the instructors are from the University of Iowa Extension Office. She’s working to get members of the public to attend so they can benefit from the course.

“The library presents an opportunity to folks of all circles. So it’s not just those involved in the schools or college. We can house everybody in the community,” Ferrell said.

Members of the community will be able to learn more; on Jan. 15 there will be a “kickoff” featuring a PBS documentary on the good and bad of the credit card industry. Then there can be further conversation.  

“We hope it generates interest in registering for the actual classes,” the librarian said. “The actual first class is Jan. 23, and we’re offering it at two different times.”

For those who can’t make it to any classes, she said, there are still options. First, the classes are available online. And second, the library is getting a slew of material on investing wisely as part of the Smartinvesting@yourlibrary program.