In May, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would be ending its Global Libraries program over the next three to five years. This decision marks the beginning of the end of a tremendous philanthropic investment that helped spur significant innovation in U.S. libraries and speed the growth of public libraries in developing countries. I’ll admit it, the news took my breath away.
In early May, the Gates Foundation took much of the world by surprise by announcing that the massive charitable organization would stop offering grants and support to libraries around the world in the next few years. Libraries have long been a pillar of the Foundation’s strategy, and while the funding will be missed, librarians are already looking ahead at how to preserve the work that’s been done and find ways for other organizations to step into the space the Foundation will leave behind.
Whether a library is designing a building or a program, the first premise of designing for impact is figuring out what impact you’re trying to make and how you’re going to assess whether that impact is occurring. One of the most common buzzwords in librarianship today is “outcomes, not outputs.” In other words, measuring not quantitative metrics of what libraries do, such as circulation or visits, but what impact those activities have on the lives of their patrons.
A $4.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support the ongoing operations of library resource and training center WebJunction, OCLC has announced. Founded in 2002 and launched the following year with grant funding from the Gates Foundation, WebJunction’s training resources, programs, and content have since been used by staff in almost 70 percent of U.S. libraries, and have helped more than 70,000 library staff members enhance their job skills, according to OCLC.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has raised the award levels for Library Journal’s annual Best Small Library in America Award. Now in its ninth year, the award was founded to celebrate and raise awareness of the work of libraries that demonstrate outstanding service to populations of 25,000 or less. For the 2013 award, the winning library will receive a $20,000 award, a feature story in the February 1, 2013 edition of LJ, membership and conference costs for two library representatives to attend the Public Library Association Biennial Conference in 2014 in Indianapolis, IN.