Things are tough all over. My library is looking at so many cuts that we were thinking about packing what books we could into the old pickup and heading to Californy with our neighbors from the Joad Library. Then we read about this. The good news at Fresno State is that they have a brand new library. Yay! The bad news is they don’t have any furniture for it because the state budget has been frozen. Bummer :( I guess my colleagues and I will have to stay where we are and not hope for better times in the land of milk and honey. Tom’s unhappy, but Rose of Sharon is taking it well.
We’ve all had to think a lot about our budgets recently, though, and it looks like things aren’t going to be looking up anytime soon. Unfortunately my library already has furniture, so we can’t save any money by not buying more. However, we’ve been brainstorming about ways to make or save money for the library. The saving money isn’t so hard, because we can always just stop buying books again. It’s the making money that’s difficult. As a librarian, my preferred way of making money is to have some higher group hand it to me and tell me to spend it. Every year, someone just hands me a chunk of money, sometimes large, sometimes small, and says, spend, spend! And I do.
But in these tough times we need to explore all options, and in the interest of good fellowship, which you know I’ve oodles of, I wanted to share some of our ideas.
Ways to Make Money
Put on a play in the old barn! We would have to charge for admission, of course. This was everyone’s favorite idea, and the one we thought would generate the most income. The whole gang was really excited. Spanky offered to make all the costumes for us because he has a way with a sewing machine, as anyone who has scene his vibrant, colorful trousers would attest. Darla and Alfalfa offered to decorate the sets. We asked Buckwheat if he would help write the play, but he just sat there scowling and muttering something about it being African American History Month and that we should stop calling him Buckwheat. Whatever. Everybody’s so serious around here.
Bake sale! A perennial favorite with librarians, who love to bake almost as much as they love to eat. This one was easy to do, too, and we’ve already done it. We sold 37 cakes, 24 of them to the same librarian. What can I say? She really likes cake. It shows.
Knitting sale! The other thing librarians like to do. The problem is, we can’t seem to get anyone but the librarians interested in anything we make. I’ve already bought 14 hats and a set of egg cozies, and I’m not sure my bank account or my apartment can handle much more of this.
Collect cans for recycling! This one is pretty easy. Our reference desk is slow, and those folks need to earn their keep some way. Obviously there aren’t a lot of questions to answer, but there sure are a lot of cans around campus to pick up.
Book sale! Libraries do this all the time, but they usually restrict themselves to gift books and discards. What if we just let the patrons go through the stacks and pick what they like? This not only raises some money for us, but relieves some congestion in the stacks – a win-win scenario.
Bookshelf sale! We’ll have some empty ones.
Casino night! Do you know how much those casinos make? A lot, I can tell you. Ours is being run by an American Indian, so we’re hoping we won’t even have to pay taxes on the winnings. We also put a row of slot machines in the cafe.
Tip jars at all the service desks! This one explains itself. We encourage patrons to leave tips. If they say they have no cash, we tell them we take credit cards as well. If they say they have no credit cards, we refuse them service.
Sell plasma! Often universities and colleges host blood drives and the librarians along with everyone else herd into those campers and give up their blood for free. For free! This can’t last. The librarians got together and decided that the profession already sucks out our souls for free; people are going to have to pay to suck our blood.
Martini-bar in the stacks! The AL’s personal favorite.
Ways to Save Money
Stop buying paper! I think this one’s a no-brainer. We’ve been hearing for years about the paperless office. We’re striving for the paperless library. Sure, one can use recycled paper which isn’t that bad on the environment, but it still costs money. Much easier to just get rid of the paper, and with it all the papier accoutrements: pens, pencils, paperclips, printers, copiers, etc. Some whiny employee complains about reading that 300-page spreadsheet on the computer? Good grief, get with the 21st century, people. If a student complains that she wants to print out a paper to turn in to class, we assure her that professors now want papers as email attachments. We don’t know if it’s true, but we don’t really care. Copy a book chapter? Ever heard of a scanner, Mr. Fancypants? People don’t like it? Tough. They should have put more in the tip jars.
Stop buying computers! True, we might regret this one day, but for now it doesn’t matter. So what if you’re using a PC that was middle of the road four years ago. I used my Macintosh II for ten years. Suck it up. Those UMPCs are looking better all the time.
Stop buying anything but the big article databases! Seriously. Stop buying everything but Proquest and JSTOR, and maybe Muse for the humanists. See how long it takes anyone to notice. You might be surprised.
Open the library one hour per week! Like they used to do in the old days.
This last one will probably save us completely.