Thursday, January 29, 2015

Libraries and Financial Literacy



The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was established by Congress in 2012 as a body to “make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans — whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.” To that end, this means ensuring that consumers get the information they need to make the financial decisions they believe are best for themselves and their families. Since there are approximately twenty (20) agencies that deal with consumer protection of various types, CFPB consolidates most Federal consumer financial protection authority in one place. The consumer bureau is focused on watching out for American consumers in the market for consumer financial products and services.

Tasks of the CFPB include taking consumer complaints, creating rules, supervising companies, and enforcing federal consumer financial protection laws. Additionally they promote financial education, monitor financial markets for new risks to consumers, and enforce laws that outlaw discrimination and other unfair treatment in consumer finance.

Image:  Questions about Buying a home
Image of dollar sign, house, and a question mark from PBS.org
Where do libraries fit into this picture? In order to promote financial education, the CFPB obtained feedback from librarians around the country. They created a web site to provide the best financial resources for librarians seeking program ideas, online resources, free print materials, librarian training, partnership guidebook, and marketing materials to let people know that the library is the place to look for answers to their money questions. (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/library-resources/)
Richard Cordray, head of the CFPB, endorsed libraries as the information resource for the public when he stated, “We want to help libraries identify and connect with local partners in their communities. And we want to be able to provide helpful training for library staff and managers.”

TechSoup.org markets itself as the place for nonprofits and libraries and also contains an archived program (from October 22, 2014) called “Making Cents of Financial Literacy: Tech Tools and Innovative Programs.” The web link to the webinar created by three librarians (from South Carolina and New York) shares tech tools, tips, and practical ideas to engage your community on financial literacy.

Written by Terrie Howe, Public Library Development Team