Money (or the lack of it) seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, and our dwindling budgets are resulting in cuts to programs and services, but I’ve heard of some ingenious tactics lately, some of which may even be recession proof.
Despite the bleak economy, people still want to get married, so Phoenix Public Library rents their auditorium out for weddings. I know charging for stuff is anathema to most librarians, but sometimes it can provide a new service to your community. One library tests new media formats (e.g. Blu-ray) by introducing them as a premium service that costs money.
Probably the best advice of all is to start a foundation. There still are people in your community who have bags of money they want to donate to a really good cause, but have no idea who to give it to – shouldn’t your library help them out? And a foundation makes you look proactive, especially if you’re going for a vote – per Charlie Robinson “A good reason to form a library foundation is to convince the local government that you are trying to find income sources other than via taxes.”
Also, statistics can demonstrate the need for more money, but they are pretty boring. Try using stories to appeal to your funders. If you told them that 15 formerly unemployed people found jobs after taking your job hunting class, or brought a letter of thanks from XYZ Company for the help you provided in starting their business that now employees 65 residents, your town manager might jump at the chance to increase your budget!
Librarians are such creative people – I’ve heard of many, many ways they finance programs they are passionate about. I’d really like to promote the most successful ones, so if something made a killing for you, let’s hear about it!