Public Library Funding Study Results…07.27.08

27 07 2008

I found an interesting blog post from Friday about a public library funding report from OCLC that I thought was worth excerpting and further review of the complete study when time permits.  Although I work in a special library, some of the results are worth noting and may be helpful in future positions or work with a Friends of the Library group.  The following are excerpts I found particularly interesting from the post “From Awareness to Funding” [http://gathernodust.blogspot.com/2008/07/from-awareness-to-funding-part-iii-how.html] :

“…In this third part, I will wrap up the analysis of the report and provide what I think libraries could do in relation to this report…

Advice from elected officials:

Stress the library’s return on investment (ROI) to the community

  1. Build strategic partnerships
  2. Be proactive
  3. Engage voters in the campaign
  4. Stress the broad appeal of the library

Elected officials on library funding campaigns

Elected officials cited a number of important components required of a successful
library funding campaign:

  • Messaging that focuses on the broader value of the library to the community,specifically a community gathering place, access to technology and programs for teenagers and other groups
  • A passionate, committed and active champion(s) who can rally support among the elected officials and community influences
  • Civic engagement, including a commitment to speak with every relevant group in the community to encourage grassroots support
  • A willingness to partner with other public services in a joint effort where strategically advantageous
  • The ability to ask for the right support at the right time:
    • Voter turnout is greater for general elections than local elections
    • It is often easier to campaign for a new building than for operating funds…

A definite need, the “passionate librarian”

These five attributes can be combined to describe the ‘passionate librarian’:p152

True advocate for lifelong learning

  • Passionate about making the library relevant again
  • Knowledgeable about every aspect of the library
  • Well-educated
  • Knowledgeable about the community.

There seems to be a DEFINITE correlation between passionate librarians and support. Sure if your staff doesn’t care about the library, why should anyone else? Furthermore, if you are a mover and shaker is it more important that you ARE one rather than what specifically you are doing?…

Library’s Relevance is questioned

Information: The library is one of many sources of information. It could potentially be replaced by a combination of bookstores, schools, coffee shops and the Internet.

  • Institution: The library is an institution sometimes associated with an out-of-date building, aged materials and limited accessibility. (The library has limited hours, the Internet is available 24/7.)
  • Nice to have: Availability of so many other options for information and learning make the library a ‘nice to have’ service, rather than a necessity.
  • Past: The library is an important part of supporters’ lives, but they question whether it is still relevant for their children and grandchildren.
  • Altruism for others: The library is less important to them, but it is important for ‘other people’ in the community.

p 174

Probable Supporters and Super Supporters felt that support for libraries
can be improved by increasing the public’s attention to four essential community benefits that the public library uniquely delivers:

  • Equal access: ‘No kid should have an excuse for not having a book or knowing how to do research. If you don’t have a computer at home, you can go to the public library.’
  • Shared community values (or teaches values) ‘It’s one of the few things that truly can provide a sense of community. It doesn’t belong to anyone but to all of us. It’s a good lesson in respect, being quiet, signing up for Internet time, returning books on time. It’s kind of a good building block in respect.’
  • A sacred place ‘It’s a gathering place where lots of different people can listen to someone else’s ideas, whether spoken or written.’ (Super Supporter, Medford, Oregon)
  • Community stature. ‘It represents a commitment by the community to cultural and intellectual activities.’…”
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