Community Conversations with Veterans Summary from Ontario City Library

In 2018, the Ontario City Library Veterans Resource Center applied for the California Center for the Book’s Community Conversations with Veterans program.  This opportunity is once again available for Veteran Resource Center libraries for 2020.

In 2019, the program provided $500 for books and a DVD, and $500 for programming. Lots of support is provided by the California Center for the Book and the staff time and paperwork is minimal.

Our Veterans Resource Center had two programs supported by the initiative.  The first was Celebrating Women’s Military History Week with women veterans from several decades. The program was organized by the Women Veterans Unity Group. We had 30 women veterans attend and everyone learned about their service and what they found memorable.  We even had a young teen who wanted to join the military and was able to ask women veterans what to expect and what to avoid. California Center for the Book paid the speaker fees for this successful program.

The second program was How to Start a Business for Veterans, and the Inland Empire Small Business Development Center showed veterans how to start their own businesses and how being a veteran offered benefits that regular entrepreneurs could not use.  There was also a presentation on starting a franchise and on financial aid for veteran business owners.  We had 15 veterans, and everyone loved the program.

I would encourage any VRC library to apply for Community Conversations with Veterans.  Programming is easy and the support from the California Center for the Book makes this grant a good way to start programming for any new VRC library! If you have any questions about the program or how it works, please feel free to call or email me.

James Augur
Veterans Resource Center Coordinator
Ovitt Family Community Library
Ontario, CA
(909) 395-2226

About Community Conversations with Veterans 2020

In 2020, California Center for the Book will fund 20 Community Conversations with Veterans initiatives at libraries across California. Library staff members interested in creating community partnerships and engaging with veterans, their families, and the community should apply in Summer 2019 to join us. Libraries who currently provide, or plan to provide, Veterans Resource Centers are given preference in the application.

Participating libraries will receive from California Center for the Book:

  • A collection of veterans-related titles to use as programming inspiration ($1,000 value)
  • $500 in speaker/moderator funds paid directly to one entity (nonprofit, community partner, speaker, moderator)
  • Documentary DVD with library license, discussion guide, and press kit

Participating libraries agree to:

  • Attend the in-person Orientation if possible (see below)
  • Collaborate with at least one community partner
  • Plan two community programs that encourage conversation with veterans, their families, and/or the greater community (these programs may also count for programming requirements for Veterans Connect @ the Library)
  • Ensure community surveys, program data, and final reporting are completed
  • Actively share best practices with fellow librarians and program staff

Program Timeline 2019/2020

  • July 23, 2019 – Applications available. Use this Planning Document to draft your 2020 application.
  • August 15, 2019 – Applications due. Apply at
  • August 23, 2019 – Program notifications made
  • October 24, 2019, 9:00AM – 12:00PM – Community Conversations with Veterans Orientation CLA Pre-Conference Session (travel support will be available, pre-conference sessions are free)
  • January 2020 – June 2020  – Programs take place
  • July 15, 2020  – Community Conversations with Veterans Library Report Due / Community Surveys Due

Program Toolkit and Resources

Start with the Community Conversations with Veterans Toolkit which includes programming and partnership ideas, and an updated booklist. Collaborate with your community partner every step of the way. Review the Program Ideas and Resources (which includes Mission Critical: Your Programming Duffel Bag ) from Veterans Connect @ the Library. Share your programming or title suggestions with us and we’ll add them to the toolkit!

Applications for the 2020 Community Conversations with Veterans initiative are due 8/15/2019. Learn more and apply at: /programs/community-conversations-with-veterans/