Public libraries in the United States have traditionally relied on local support for the vast majority of their revenue. While this is still largely true, the funding landscape is getting more diverse, and there is a greater need for libraries to be increasingly creative when it comes to balancing base funding with new sources. Money allocated at the local level rarely stretches far enough to cover staffing, operations, collection development, and programming, let alone experimentation to invent or test innovative new services. Local funding is also subject to political winds as administrations change.
On October 29 American Library Association (ALA) president Sari Feldman launched the Libraries Transform campaign, a three-year national public awareness initiative focusing on the ways public, academic, school, and special libraries and librarians across the nation transform their communities. Events kicked off in Washington, DC, as the Libraries Transform team visited a cross-section of transformative libraries, and will continue with contributions from libraries—and library lovers—everywhere.
At the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference, ALA’s United for Libraries division presented a well-received session, Getting a Bigger Piece of the Pie: Effective Communication with Funders and Policy Makers. A panel of three experienced fundraisers talked about what is and isn’t working in their ongoing mission to help support their libraries, offering a range of good advice to library leaders and fundraisers at every level.
Connecticut’s Darien Library last week launched darienlibrary.tv, a new website designed to offer streamlined access to the library’s archive of library-created video content, including recorded author lectures, educational seminars, TechCast “how to” series on consumer technology, reader recommendation presentations, and more. Much of this content was already available online, but on a “hodgepodge” of sites, explained Assistant Director for Innovation and UX John Blyberg.
Finding great books is getting even harder now as more and more books are published every year. Nearly a million new books flooded the market last year alone—about half of them self-published. LJ’s Patron Profiles data shows that libraries can be a great source for book discovery—32 percent of patrons find books to read or borrow from libraries. But there are still many more readers to reach. Readers’ advisory and online discovery both continue to play big roles in connecting readers to new titles, authors, and even genres they might not have sought out on their own. In the physical space, there is much more that can be done by reinventing how libraries approach the art of the display.
Libraries in Central Florida are getting ready for their closeup. The Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC), which represents 113 public, academic, school, and special libraries in the Sunshine State, has brought on a full-time videographer to serve each branch, and the consortium as well. Now special events, chats with authors, and even monthly newsletters from TBLC members are getting professional video treatment.
If there’s one word I’d choose as the single most repeated term in libraries over the course of my career (thus far) it would be “change.” And that word has usually had a good connotation for me, since I’ve always figured that if you’re going to change something, you’re going to change it for the better. But now… I’m not so sure.
A recent mailing from my library school alma mater (SUNY Albany) brought with it the realization that I’ve been a librarian for quite a long time (36 years and 6 months, to be precise, but who’s counting…), and yet, I feel about my work now very much as I did in my first job as a part-time reference librarian at Union College.