Funding Public Libraries – Dissertation

(Please share with Library Trustees, Library Staff, and Library Fund Raisers)

By Hartwig Pautz~  University of Strathclyde

How should we fund our public libraries?  Compatibility of income generation with library ethos

Woman_readingPublic libraries, it seems, are in financial trouble everywhere. At the same time, they are expected to do more and for more people. If library revenue from taxes is drying up – what can public libraries do? They can try to generate additional income from their existing services and from new services, specifically established to make money. But are these income activities compatible with what public libraries stand for? Do charges or fee-based services violate the principle of free access to information for everyone? Would the principled rejection of charges and fees just speed up the end of the public library and is thus obsolescent at best, and dangerous at worst?

For my Masters dissertation in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, I would like to hear the opinions of public librarians – including library assistants, managers and fundraisers if working for public libraries – on these questions. My aim is to develop a better understanding of what income generation activities are used by public librarians and what they think about the impact on these on the public library ethos. Does direct sponsoring help the organisation or does it erode its ethos and principles? How about user charges, do they sit well with public librarians? And do public libraries have targets for income generation? These are examples from the set of ten questions that are on my e-survey which is directed at public librarians in the US, the United Kingdom and Germany.

I am hoping that the outcomes of my research will help librarians addressing financial difficulties and building stronger institutions while defending principles and ethos.  All results of my study will be made public on the University’s open access repository at:  http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk  . I will disseminate the results as widely as possible also through further open access channels.

So, I am asking for your help for my research. Please take the time and follow the link below to a short electronic questionnaire; it should not take more than ten minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and nobody will be identifiable.

SurveyLink:  https://strathsci.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9BtLwndmU9nPQ6p

Everybody who is working in a public library context in the US, the UK and Germany is welcome to take this survey – be they library assistants, library fundraisers or managers.

Please do not hesitate to contact me via prb12163@uni.strath.ac.uk or hartwig.pautz@arcor.de .

Thank you very much for your help!

Hartwig Pautz

Postgraduate Student in Information and Library Studies
University of Strathclyde
Department of Computer and Information Studies
E-mail: prb12163@uni.strath.ac.uk
Dissertation supervisor: Alan Poulter (alan.poulter@strath.ac.uk)

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Tea Parties and Terabytes : the Digital Library Revolution

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Tea Parties and  Terabytes  : the Digital Library Revolution

Tea Party

A few months ago on Publib , I entertained the idea of replacing a brick and mortar library with electronic book readers and subscriptions.

Our local free library had spent about $8,000,000 on a library renovation / reconstruction employing grants, local taxes, donations and state funds.  Notably, it had started out being about a 4 million dollar project.   What would 8 million dollars along with yearly operating funds  purchase now?  Could the needs of library users be met with electronic book readers and subscriptions?  Could accessibility be expanded?  

Asking those questions met with sharp disapproval from the librarian in Rhode Island who had overseen the project. She characterized me as a tea bagger – (derogatory slang meaning Tea Party member) for daring to bring up the idea.   At least I think that was what she meant.  The Urban Dictionary has some other definitions that are not very nice.

I'm late !

Why would entertaining a simple idea of how  8 million dollars could have been spent create such a visceral reaction? Public libraries represent the most efficient aspect of local government.  Hardly any library system is a  beneficiary of public largess.  The entire loosely affiliated public library system in the United States is efficient because of internalized ethics, highly trained personnel and sharing.  Sharing resources means everyone benefits.  Sharing is something other public services have never done as well as public libraries. Are public libraries in such precarious shape that civil discourse threatens libraries as the bastions of civil discourse?  Is time running out? Are we too late?

Imagine no brick and mortar library exists.  What sort of digital book access could an initial 8 million dollar investment and a yearly operating  budget of $480,000  afford?  …

$8,000,000  could buy:

 Amazon Kindle . . . . . . . . 57,553 units retail    at $139 each or
 Sony eBook Reader . . . .  62,015 units retail    at $129 each or
 Barnes & Noble Nook . . . 53,691 units retail    at $149 each 

 A $480,000 operating budget could purchase:

Lots of electronic books. The cost of many titles through Amazon’s Kindle program is $9.99 or less. So, yearly new ebook accession could be greater than or equal to 48,000 titles. That seems like a fairly small collection to support sixty thousand ebook readers

The 60,000 ebook readers could also be shared within households. With  2.59 people on average per household – 155,400 people would be sharing only 48,000 titles.  That is less than 1/3 of a book simultaneously available to all readers at once during the first year.

But wait, there’s more, terabytes more:

Amazon also provides Kindle Popular Classics with almost instantaneous free access to over 15,000 books.

Project Gutenberg provides Free eBooks with over 33,000  titles.

The Internet Archive provides free access to massive collections .

The Google Books project also provides free access to terabytes of text and images and is partnering with major libraries around the world.

Digital collections such as the Perseus Project   and Lincolniana at Brown offer a vast wealth of specialized subject matter.

The United States Government along with State and Local Governments are providing more and more public information in digital format.

So, what does that mean?

60,000 households could each have immediately access to hundreds of thousands of free books and articles and increasing access to new books and articles. 

But what about catalogs and reader services?  Doesn’t everyone need catalog help? These collections are HUGE!

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the United States.  The Library of Congress Catalog is massive and serves as the expert resource for copyright.  The Librarians who staff the Library of Congress are some of the most highly compensated in the US. 

Which catalog is intuitively better?

Library of Congress Catalog search:

Here is the output in basic search for the word balliot:   http://bit.ly/fCXAnh

Select item 2 –  CONVAL Report:  http://bit.ly/ijNORk

Using the same search strategy in Google Books:

Here is the output in basic search for the word balliot:    http://bit.ly/faHnAT

Select item 1 – CONVAL Report:  http://bit.ly/gUPu1v

It is even intuitively easier to search within  Library of Congress collections using Google Books full text.  LC requires a copy submitted to them when they formally copyright.  

Full- text of the Copyright Catalog available within Google and not within the LC catalog:  http://bit.ly/gzJf7S  provides reference pointers to LC’s collection.

The HELIN  Library Catalog employs  III encore software and includes: Brown University, Bryant University, Community College of Rhode Island, Dominican House of Studies, Hospital Libraries of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University, University of Rhode Island, and Wheaton College holdings.

Which catalog is more helpful? 

Here is  HELIN‘s output searching for the phrase Windows Forensic Analysis DVD Toolkit, Second Edition:   http://bit.ly/g8mOa0

Here is Amazon‘s output searching for the phrase Windows Forensic Analysis DVD Toolkit, Second Edition: http://amzn.to/gBpxkZ

Encore tells us that we should use other words and check our spelling. It offers no leads to additional material.  Amazon provided the book, the electronic version, reviews, shots of inside pages and related works.  Some library catalogs intergrate similar features in the user interface, but they are not leading the way.  They are merely following the examples of successful for-profit library catalogs that only recently began to market books.

The Digital Library Revolution

 $8,ooo,ooo in construction expenditures and a $480,000 yearly budget represents the real-world costs of operating a public library in a community with about 22,000 residents and a fairly small collection.  Using the revolutionary digital library model presented here, the same funds would support 155,400  people in 60,000 households while providing instant access to terabytes of digitized collections.
 
The digital library revolution is a radical departure from the way that library materials are contained, published and distributed. Instead of allowing public libraries to disappear from the conversation,  civil discourse should continue that includes public libraries as significant partners and facilitators in the evolution of this digital library revolution.  It is not too late.
 

 “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.” ~ Lewis Carroll

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Engaging your patrons

Re-thinking educational resources

This presentation at TED by PennState’s –  Ali Carr-Chellman - provides excellent insight for engaging potential patrons by rethinking the dynamics of education and information delivery. Highly recommended viewing for any children’s / young adult / reference librarians and library administrators seeking ways of making their collections and resources more viable.

How can this idea of engaging an alienated population be implemented in libraries? 

What methods that mirror these concepts are currently being employed?

Books by Alison A. Carr-Chellman:

Best of PubLib 03.28.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Provocative video suitable for all audiences coming soon

This edition of  Best of Publib covers  March 15th through March 28th 2010. This PubLib review and analysis includes questions about naming library rooms, thought-provoking discussions about new media archives , library materials security,  and our new poll on R-rated movie access. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include: 

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Best of PubLib 02.21.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Best of PubLib TVComing Soon!

This week  in  Best of Publib covers February 15th through February 21st 2010. This week includes PubLib questions about collection development, the value of on-line tutorials and databases , organization of gaming tournaments,  and the cause of stress in public libraries. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include: 

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Best of PubLib ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall Review

Best of PubLib at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibit Hall Review

This week,  Best of Publib covered the ALA Exhibit Hall at the Boston Convention Center.   The HD video below includes hundreds of vendor displays.  We hope it will help you imagine the experience if you were not able to attend, or help refresh and reinforce what you learned.  

 
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Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

The Boston Convention Center was an excellent venue for ALA. The train brought us to South Station - just a few minutes away from the hotels and convention amenities.   There are many local publishers and library suppliers within a short distance, so start-ups and unique product suppliers could present affordably.  And, Boston rocks!  The Freedom Trail, Duck Tours , along with world-class museums and libraries are within short distances of the convention center.  

The organizational effort by ALA and attention to detail by the library vendors was outstanding. It was easy to lose track of time on the exhibit hall floor amidst the panorama and noise.  It took on a casino / carnival atmosphere with prizes to win and vendors pitching their games. High above, you could use the Food Court sign as a directional beacon.  

Of all the hundreds of vendors represented, we chose to review five.  

The first is : I-Concepts which defines itself as Innovative Concepts for Nonprofit Organizations.  We could imagine many libraries outside of Boston benefiting from this service, along with fostering a general appreciation of local history archives.  If you are looking for a way to both encourage collection use and raise funds – i-concepts may be the answer. The Amelia Earhart print was fascinating.  

LibraryThing.com/forLibraries

The second  is : LibraryThing. Tim Spalding along with his gregarious black-shirted  horde truly represented the best of Open Source, Library 2.0 and viral marketing. They were eager to engage and highly entertaining.  

The third vendor is : LE@D-Lifelong Education @ Desktop from the University of North Texas   This group was absolutely charming and demonstrated infectious enthusiasm for their services. They dressed in some of the most colorful attire at the exhibit.  Le@D  provides highly affording library training. According to Director – Kevin Haney (in the middle with the green shirt) – costs are as low as $15 for a course! Enthusiastic library training –  Deep in the heart of Texas!  

New York Times

The fourth vendor is: The New York Times offering 50% off Home Delivery Service
 Marketing was conducted by On the Avenue Marketing Group with this excellent salesperson hawking half-price subscriptions. She may have been the hardest working individual in the exhibit hall. Yet, it was somehow troubling that this was the limit of representation of the New York Times publishing empire.  

III

The fifth vendor is: III – Innovative Interfaces Incorporated. III is one of the heavy hitters in the Library industry. Many libraries are dependent on their products and they have  a loyal base. I worked on two transitions to III – the first at Brown University from CLSI and the second at CLAN libraries from Horizon. I have used III for over twenty years and find it offers outstanding service. However, what I observed in the exhibit hall was troubling.  

The III booth was very well-appointed and designed with several interactive product displays. It supported a large group of associates to answer questions. Yet, few were actually engaged in discussions with anyone but their co-workers. A librarian approached two of the representatives to thank III for providing a pass to the exhibit hall. One of the representatives took a look at the librarian’s badge and said something to the effect of :

 “Well ______ must have been giving away those passes all along the east coast, we had another librarian from ____ stop by earlier “.

Then the rep rattled off a few names of people they considered important from that same institution and basically dismissed the librarian. There was no sales pitch. No offer to demo. Merely, a dismissal. 

Library Service, especially in the public library sector, ideally levels the playing field. Service is equal. In contrast, some vendor representatives have obviously been instructed to find out the station of the exhibit hall attendee, determine if they were of the buyer / influencer class and dismiss the others. Yet, the nature of libraries and librarians as technology consumers requires generating interest throughout an organization and getting everyone to buy in. If you have six vendor representatives at an exhibit and you don’t have a crowd around your people, then you should generate interest by engaging everyone.  All of the library vendors were start-ups at one point.   

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The exhibit hall may be the most effective way to get hands on experience with some of the newest and most exciting products in the library world.  The meager twenty-five dollar entrance fee – or having an inside vendor representative hook you up for free makes the experience well worth the visit.  

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This Week in Best of PubLib 12.22.2009

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Our special holiday edition of  This week in Best of Publib covers  December 14th through December 22rd. This Best of PubLib report includes questions about collection development,  excellent library quotes, reference librarian development,  and the impact of intergenerational conflict. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:

  • Topic   »    social software user policy question - Penny Ramirez in Crystal Lake, IL is looking for library policy examples –  How does your library facilitate or inhibit social networking?
  • Topic   »    ADA compliant software –  Renee J. Ponzio   in Eau Claire, WI wants to know if you have found language software that meets ADA criteria – Do the accessibility tools that are standard with Mac and PC systems make language software compliant?
  • Topic   »    weird animal sounds storytime -  Linda Myer   in Marysville OH compiled a list of children’s books recommended by PubLib readers that  help children discover animal sounds – Who hoots?  – sounds like a job for librarians!
  • Topic   »    Dewey-less libraries - Kevin O’Kelly   in Somerville, MA is looking for alternative methods of finding library materials. Is there a better system than OCLC’s Dewey? What is the ultimate example of sign systems and call numbers?
  • Topic   »    Broadband Stimulus - Andrea Taylor   in Fullerton, CA  is looking at the impact of  stimulus funds on high-bandwidth connectivity – Will broadband stimulus affect and enhance your services?
  • Topic   »   Western Fiction for a bookclub discussion - Terry Sterling   in Fresno, CA got excited enough abut the recent collection development topic on Westerns to envision a bookclub discussion – What do you recommend?
  • Topic   »    Middle School Book Club Selection -   in Lebanon, OR is looking for selections appropriate for Middle School students – On that topic is Lost really just an adult Lord of the Flies ?
  • Topic   »    Library Quote –  Michael R. Meise -    in Roanoke, VA  is looking for the perfect quote for a library bag – many excellent suggestions were offered.
  • Topic   »    Retirement!!  George Hazelton   in McDonough, GA has announced his upcoming retirement – Congratulations !  Huzzah  !
  • Topic   »    Tutorial on Ancestry.com -  Sana Moulder    in Fayetteville NC is teaching a course on Ancestry and is looking for tips – How far back can you trace your lineage?
  • Topic   »    Computer Access Passes…  Ron Block in Jacksonville, FL wants to know how you ration computer services to non-residents – Is your access universal?
  • Topic   »    teen areas -  Cindy Hayes    in High Ridge, MO  is concerned about adults in the teen areas – Do teens and adults mix? Should adults be restricted from convenient access to teen oriented collections? When is being a child at heart or in mind a bad thing? Should libraries foster intergenerational relationships

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