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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Best of Publib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of PubLib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of Publib January 2013

Best of Publib Word Cloud
January 2013

This edition of Best of Publib covers the month of January 2013.  Hot topics for the month of January included:

  • Cataloging Local Textbooks ~
    • Debra Bashaw of the McMullen Memorial Library in Huntington, TX asked:
    • How do you catalog cookbooks from local organizations?
  • Lending E-reader devices ~
    • Lucien Kress of the Multnomah County Library asked regarding the DOJ settlements over e-reader accessibility queried:
    • Are you loaning only accessible e-readers, which readers do you loan and other pertinent questions.
  • List Problems ~
    • Amy Mullin of the Austin Public Library wanted to know:
    • Are there technical problems with the list?
  • Playaways ~
    • John Richmond of the Alpha Park Public Libray District in Bartonville, IL pondered and ruminated:
    • “I’m wondering if anyone Out There has changed policies re: what they/you provide with Playaways. And if you took something away, did people holler? (Which, of course, they shouldn’t do, because they’re in a *library*.)”
  • Surveys for the Public ~
    • Elizabeth Thorson of the Laramie County Library System in Cheyenne, WY asked:
    • “Has anyone surveyed the public when facing budget cuts?”
  • Requests by Parents for in loco parentis services ~
    • Beth Hudson of the Walla Walla Public Library in Walla Walla, Washington wondered :
    • Does anyone have a written statement which they provide when a parents asks that you not check out certain items to their child?”.
  • Worst Marketing Idea(s) Ever ~
    • Dierdre Conkling of the Lincoln County Library District reported on ALA OIF’s plan for a sweater vest day to support intellectual freedom:
    • “I think this sounds like fun but I don’t own a sweater vest. Just shows once again that I am not cool. ;-)”

On January 10th The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom announced their ‘Wear a sweater vest on Sunday, Jan. 27, in support of intellectual freedom!‘ campaign.  If librarians attending Mid-Winter ALA would wear a sweater vest on that day, it would demonstrate their commitment and support of intellectual freedom.

In jaw-dropping, dumbfounded awe I asked:

I am trying to imagine how Judith Krug would have reacted to perhaps the worst marketing idea I have ever seen and the dynamics of a meeting where this idea was proposed and validated. Did no one dare to speak truth to power?

What does a ‘sweater vest’ represent? How the heck does a sweater vest  correlate to *any* form of ‘intellectual freedom’? Perhaps what is most appalling is the obvious lack of intellectual effort it takes to say you *support* intellectual freedom by wearing a sweater vest.

Maybe this will take off along the same lines as ‘Geek the Library’, which seriously detracts from the library mission. Bad ideas, once they are validated, tend to gain their own momentum.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Emperor’s New Clothes

This touched off two discussions on the list – one about the efficacy of sweater vests as statements of intellectual freedom and the other about the importance or impotence of the Geek the Library campaign administered by OCLC.  And, there were the anticipated reactions from some readers who were simply aghast that I would question poorly made decisions by established bureaucracies. :)

Emily Weak who had been promoting a librarian employment site/ blog on Publib asked:

Somewhat off your topic, but I am curious as to how “Geek the Library” detracts  from the library’s mission? Isn’t it about the diversity of resources one can find at the library (i.e. whatever you have a crazy passion for, you can find  materials about it at the library)? Is it that you feel geek has negative connotations?

The Side Show Honoré Daumier

The Side Show
Honoré Daumier

The Geek the Library campaign has evolved into its own bureaucracy supported by grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by OCLC.  I have found no empirical evidence that Geek the Library is more effective than any other course of advertising or promotion. In fact, there may be many, much more effective methods.  Anna Cangialosi with the Chelsea District Library did provide a link to an anecdotal case study on Publib.  However, there appears to be no clear data regarding effectiveness. The press release branded by OCLC seems to be yet another self-serving validation for people who self-identify as being a ‘geek’.

Professional librarians have spent years trying to separate themselves from the stereotype of anti-social professional clerks.  The movement to create a new stereotype by branding librarians as Geeks may result in many more years of trying to live down that stereotype.  Why not continue what we were working towards => a stereotype representing professionalism along with informational and intellectual excellence?

Saving Our Public Libraries

Saving Our Public Lbraries

Rather than blindly accepting that a terrible marketing campaign is in your interest and the interest of your library – why not read a book about how you can promote your library? Why not do a critical assessment of what works and what doesn’t? Why not re-engage in library science as a fundamental set of skills?

Janet Jai has written an excellent book that investigates success stories, expert advice and innovative ideas that support library marketing. If you haven’t ordered it yet,  you should order it for your library today: Saving Our Public Libraries  Why We Should. How We Can.

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – September 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
 This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for September 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Some of the more active threads include: a continued discussion of LSSI from August , Amazon in Competition with Libraries ,  Book or E-bookBedbugs ,  and an assortment of DVD Issues.
 
Publib Topics September 2011

Publib Topics September 2011

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Archives compiled after Dec. 7, 2011 are available here: Archives

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – August 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
 This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for August 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been Publib. Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
 
Publib Topics August 2011

Publib Topics August 2011

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Best of Publib – Dream Teams 2011 Entry Forms

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Best of Publib – Librarian Dream Teams – 2011

Dear Best of Publib Readers:

The Editor’s of Best of Publib want to know who you think should be on the first ever annual Best of Publib – Librarian Dream Teams.

We are looking for nominations for two teams:

Team 1: The Best of Publib Real World Public Library Dream Team – (anyone who has worked in / with a public library qualifies)

Team 2: The Best of Publib Fantasy Public Library Dream Team – (anyone living or dead or unliving)

Official Entry Form:  

 http://oceanstatelibrarian.com/BestofPublibRealWordDreamTeam_2011.xls

(forms do not need to be filled out completely – if you only want to nominate a Director, Trustee or Mascot – each entry will count)

Please return by January 8th to

bestofpublib@gmail.com

In this world of economic uncertainly and tough times for libraries – who would you want to fill the positions of:

  • Director
  • Assistant Director
  • Marketing/Communications Director
  • Head of Technology
  • Head of Circulation
  • Head of Cataloging / Technical Services
  • Head of Reference
  • Youth Services / Children’s Librarian
  • three Reference Librarians
  • two Circ Desk Staff
  • two stacks
  • 4 trustees
  • Library Mascot

Fantasy Librarian

Think about who you would like to work for/ with. What personnel would represent the pinnacle of Librarianship and library services? Who rocks at reference? Who directs like no other? Which trustees are trustworthy? Who will be number 1?

The top five nominees for each position will receive recognition in January in a special edition of Best of Publib. Those top entries will be presented for a vote by all of the Best of Publib Readers to determine the ultimate 2011 Real World and Fantasy Librarian Dream Teams.

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Please note: HTML is stripped out of archives. Compose in plaintext or richtext.

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Best of Publib – Librarian Dream Team – 2011

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Best of Publib – Librarian Dream Teams – 2011

Dear Best of Publib Readers:

The Editor’s of Best of Publib want to know who you think should be on the first ever annual Best of Publib – Librarian Dream Teams.   

We are looking for nominations for two teams:

Team 1: The Best of Publib Real World Librarian Dream Team – (anyone who has worked in / with a public library qualifies)

Team 2: The Best of Publib Fantasy Public LIbrary Dream Team  – (anyone living or dead or unliving)

In this world of economic uncertainly and tough times for libraries – who would you want to fill the positions of:

  • Director
  • Assistant Director
  • Marketing/Communications Director
  • Head of Technology
  • Head of Circulation
  • Head of Cataloging / Technical Services
  • Head of Reference
  • Youth Services / Children’s Librarian
  • three Reference Librarians
  • two Circ Desk Staff
  • two stacks
  •  4 trustees 

Fantasy Librarian

Think about who you would like to work for/ with.  What personnel would represent the pinnacle of Librarianship and library services?  Who rocks at reference? Who directs like no other? Which trustees are trustworthy? Who will be number 1? 

The top five nominees for each position will receive recognition in January in a special edition of Best of Publib. Those top entries will be presented for a vote by all of the Best of Publib Readers to determine the ultimate 2011 Real World and Fantasy Librarian Dream Teams.

Our next edition of Best of Publib will contain the official entry form. 

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Librarian Bill of Rights

Librarian Bill of Rights and Ethical Librarians

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There have been many excellent and intriguing responses so far regarding instances of unethical librarianship and untrustworthy trustees. Those responses will be aggregated  here on Best of Publib.
 
One of the interesting comments received was from Diedre Conkling formerly with the ALA Committee on Professional Ethics:
 
On Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 3:58 PM, Diedre Conkling  wrote:

 There are many reason’s why the ALA Code of Ethics can’t be enforced on librarians, ALA members or the local level.  We, the Committee on Professional Ethics, recently studied this issue for about 3 years.  The study included open forums for input on the code, how to change it and how to enforce it.  We also looked at what is done in other organizations.  The only organizations that can enforce a code of ethics are licensing agencies.  ALA is not one of these.

 
So, even though ALA has eloquently and elegantly described how to be ethical, all of that work on behalf of the profession by professional librarians only has the authority of suggestion and consensus. On the other hand, unethical librarianship and untrustworthy trustees are the product of the powerful slippery slope.  In some environments the slope is much slippier and the pitch is much greater.

Maybe it just begins with a small compromise of ethics:

  • Did the trustee lose a book? Don’t charge them for it. They are more important than the other patrons.
  • Do you want a good evaluation?  Then hire the trustee’s cousin over a more qualified applicant. 
  • Trustee wants you to give no-bid work to one of their friends or relatives –  go along with it.  
  • Trustee doesn’t want you to provide access to public records about the no-bid work? Lose the info.
  • Meeting minutes?  What meeting minutes? 
No real harm done and you generated some good will with your trustee.  Maybe the trustee likes what you did for them, gives you a raise and authorizes a trip from library funds for you to Key West.   Hey, it is just tax dollars, no one will miss it. Come on.  Everyone does it. Don’t rock the boat. Wink, wink – nudge, nudge.
 
On the other hand, hire the more qualified applicant, treat the trustee equally, make sure funds are allocated properly, support the First Amendment, equal protection under the law and provide lawful access to public records and as an at-will public servant you could lose your job.  There is no effective protection for your profession by your profession.
 

Justice

In Rhode Island – along with many other locations, the slope is just about as slick as it can get.  The political pressure to do the wrong thing can be enormous.  The way that another important group of professionals charged with providing equal protection under the law dealt with the ethical dilemma was the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. The Fraternal Order of Police helped to promote the Bill of Rights to protect their members from political reprisal for doing their jobs.  Many other states have adopted similar laws.

 
I believe that a *Librarian* Bill of Rights (not to be confused with Library Bill of Rights) should be promoted and adopted by the States  as a method to protect the public interest by protecting public librarians in the commission of their lawful duties as administrators, information professionals, and managers of the public trust.
 
Librarians should  have the duty,  right, and protection under the law to act in their professional capacities to:
  • Uphold U.S. Constitution/Federal/State laws
  • Support the First Amendment
  • Support FOIA and Open Meetings/Access to Public Records statutes
  • Conduct library activities using standard principles of accounting
  • Report to appropriate entity – elected officials – without fear of reprisal  – except for malicious intent – any misfeasance/violation of law -  by Board of Trustees or individual trustee
  • Unless declined – right to have evaluations discussed in public
  • Right to review credentials of Board of Trustee applicants – if  Trustees are required to *have*  credentials – prior to appointment

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective from January 2011 back to January 2010

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

These graphic images or word clouds were created using Wordle. They are derived from the subjects and authors in PubLib from January 2010 to January 27 2011.  The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented.    Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 - H6 tags through feeds.  These graphics are not processed with H1 - H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing.  In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
The first graphic represents the most current information for January 2011 and is followed by the normal sequence of January – December 2010.  
2011 appears somewhat ominous! 
January 2011 PubLib

PubLib January 2010

PubLib February 2010

PubLib March 2010

PubLib April 2010

PubLib April 2010

PubLib May 2010

PubLib May 2010

PubLib June 2010

 

PubLib July 2010

 

PubLib August 2010

PubLib September 2010

PubLib October 2010

PubLib November 2010

PubLib December 2010

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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 02.08.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

weekly updateThis week  in  Best of Publib covers the week of February 1st through February 7th 2010. This week includes questions about collection development, thought-provoking discussions about social reference questions , library website development,  and changes to library employment qualifications. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:

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