The articles we read this week were all related to financial planning. This is the number one issue for any service dependent on pubic finance. We are all familiar with the phrase ‘you must do more with less’ but these articles highlight that libraries have been forced to work under this mantra for many decades and guides us on how they have tried to deal with this issue.
These articles give us some practical advice on how to manage library finances and shows us how to raise funds from alternative sources such as fundraising. They were all very interesting and pin pointed that the major issue with running this public service whether it be in the US or the UK was the severe under-funding of libraries from successive governments. This is the same problem that libraries in Ireland are facing. Over the last number of years there has been a huge campaign in the media to discredit regular civil servants by claiming their wages are too high and they have too many benefits. By causing this divide between public and private sector employees it makes it easier for successive governments to bring in huge pay cuts, an embargo on recruitment and cuts to spending on these services. This leaves us with not only a severely underfunded but also understaffed library network.
Although the articles highlight the above issues and give us advice on how to deal with the situation they don’t raise a strategy to resist the ongoing attacks on this vital public service. In Ireland we are already near breaking point, there are no career prospects as a librarian for new graduates and our National Library collection is under threat due to insufficient funds to for adequate off site storage. The only real solution to these problems is an organised mass movement of the trade unions and general public. The services that the library provides are vital to the community, with out them literacy rates would decrease and people would have little or no access to archives as well as government publications.
Fundraising is a major part of any public service, I have been involved in many campaigns for different charities and clubs but this strategy is getting more and more difficult as the general public’s spending power has reduced dramatically in the last few years. If I was in a position of managing a libraries budget I am not sure how I would deal with it because from year to year the situation keeps getting worse so who knows if there will be even careers for recent graduates.
Accounting for libraries (n.d.) in Library of Michigan financial management reference guide. Chapter 1, page 1.1-1.10.
Cross, R. (2011). Not so fast! Budget allocation formulas: magic or illusion?. [DOI: 10.1108/08880451111142114]. Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, The, 24(1), 63-67.
Holt, G. (2005). Getting beyond the pain: understanding and dealing with declining library funding. [DOI: 10.1108/08880450510632271]. Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, The, 18(4), 185-190.
Rader, H. (2000). Fundraising in academic libraries: the United States experience. Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, The, 13(2), 93-99