About the Knights of the Ring Organization

by Donna Beales, Founder

In 1997 with the influx of publicity from an article which appeared in School Library Journal, I found myself facing a serious problem.   People had all kinds of questions about the Knights program, and while I had answers, I found the sheer volume of requests impossible to manage as one-to-one interactions.

Anticipating this need, before the article in SLJ appeared, I began to put together the manual on this web site in booklet form.  I thought I could offer it relatively inexpensively by printing up copies as requested and shipping them at nominal cost to wherever they were needed.  

I could do likewise with requests for our specially made rings, and put any money beyond the cost of having the crest die struck (which was very expensive) toward philanthropic purposes.

If only it were that simple.  I quickly learned that in order to legally send items through the U.S. mail, I needed to be a fully licensed mail-order business, or a not-for-profit organization.

Timing was everything, and it was faster, less complicated, and less expensive to form a 'sole proprietorship' business than to try to recruit trustees and build start-up capital. I learned that becoming a nonprofit organization is a very involved process that requires legal and accounting expertise, people with time to spend-- and money.  I had none of the above!  And so the Knights became a one-woman cottage industry  instead of the nonprofit organization it needed to be.

In 1998, after twelve months, the fledgling Knights business ended when I enrolled in the graduate program in Library and Information Science at Simmons College.  I knew I couldn't continue to work in a very demanding library environment (a hospital library), go to graduate school and maintain a business, which is a full-time occupation in and of itself.  And so I folded the Knights officially as the article faded in colleagues' minds and demand for the program decreased.

In terms of strict 'business,' you might say that the Knights was a total failure!  I spent a lot of money having a die cut for our own rings as well as for other expenses, which I never recouped.  But to my mind the experience was an incredible success.  Hundreds-- possibly thousands-- of libraries participated in the Knights program, making it everything I had ever aspired to and more.  I 'met' some great librarians who shared my vision for the Knights.  I emailed back and forth with many wonderful people, and occasionally traveled to different Knighting ceremonies close to home.

These days, my thoughts turn again to doing the Knights of the Ring program justice.  As I complete my degree with the inception of this web site, I look forward to once again considering the lengthy process of obtaining legal not-for-profit status.  I have my eye on a board of trustees made up of now adult 'Knights,' and will cautiously venture here that some day down the road I hope to have our wonderful rings available to all Knights of the Ring  programs everywhere, with the proceeds going toward scholarships for individual 'Knights' or toward grants for libraries badly in need of funding.

However, for the present, rings will have to wait.

If others have any thoughts or ideas about how to accomplish such an end, through professional affiliation, corporate sponsorship or other means (I confess to ignorance here-- these are deep waters I haven't yet ventured into), I welcome your comments and suggestions.

In the meantime, I consider my own pledge 'to do one act of community service each year forever' as I write these words. I too took a vow to 'do the best I can in any situation, and be the best person I can be.'  By maintaining this site I'm attempting to give colleagues something of my personal best.  If only one library benefits from my efforts, it will have been worth it.

'Pax Viscom Album!'--

Donna Beales
Knights of the Ring

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