Monday, August 29, 2011

The Sustainable Funding Challenge for Metro Atlanta Public Libraries

Gwinnett libraries focus on donations. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/27/2011)

Excerpt: After losing millions of dollars in government funding, the Gwinnett County Public Library plans to launch a major private fundraising initiative this fall.

Though details remain to be worked out, the library’s board of trustees is discussing plans to solicit corporate sponsorships and individual contributions to supplement scarce tax dollars even as the library continues to cut spending and reduce hours.

The fundraising plan comes as Gwinnett and other libraries try to balance rising demand for services with shrinking resources. They’re also providing new services like e-Books as information technology changes the media landscape.

The push and pull of those forces have spawned competing visions of how the Gwinnett library should move forward.

Board Chairman Phillip Saxton believes private donations might be the only way to maintain library services as government support wanes in an era of austerity.

<“How much do you think we can actually cut before we start hurting people?” Saxton said. “I’d rather just go to the public and say, would you please donate $5?” Board member Dick Goodman thinks the private fundraising initiative will distract the library from developing a new, more efficient operating model. He thinks the library should consider operating its 15 branches on different schedules to avoid the across-the-board hour reductions that are likely coming this fall.

Related posts.
Nickeling and diming library users:  Not a path to sustainable funding.  (7/23/2011)
IMCPL grapples with its sustainable future.  (8/16/2010)
Boulder Library Commission reviews alternative funding methods.  (8/14/2010)

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