Good news if you are trying to raise funds for your library!

A new report from OCLC and WebJunction with ALA and PLA indicates that 33% of people would be willing to donate to their local public library.  The report, From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America, updates 10 year old national data about the willingness of voters to support public library funding.  This past fall, 2,000 voters between the ages of 18-69 were surveyed for the report from communities with a population fewer than 300,000.   

Check out the infographic for a quick overview, but it’s worth your time to look at the full report if you are trying to raise funds for your library or pass a referendum (both available for download from the link above).  And for those of you interested in digging deeper, the site also has links to the full data set, survey questions, verbatim responses, and more.

The study shows that most people don’t understand how libraries are funded and don’t know that most of their funding is from local sources.  Sounds like libraries have some public awareness work to do!

The amazing finding is that 61% of voters have either contributed (28%) or are willing to contribute (33%) to fundraising efforts in support of their local library.  That number is huge! Libraries sometimes hesitate to start or expand fundraising efforts, but this report is definitive proof that community members are willing to donate — the library just has to ask!

But how do you know whom to ask? Check out the report’s detail about supporter segments.  Each segment has specific characteristics and motivations for supporting the library. If you are in charge of fundraising for your library, studying these segments will make it easier to identify potential donors.  Simply think of people that you think fit into each segment! Your potential donor list can form the basis of your annual development plan.

Then, read the rest of the report to see what voters value in libraries.  What is your library doing to add value to the community in the areas identified by voters?  Boom! There’s the start of your fundraising case statement.

Also consider the barriers listed in the report.  These are segments you won’t want to spend your time convincing that the library is worthy of a donation.  Match your case statement to segments that are already receptive and focus your fundraising efforts. Your success rate will soar because you’ve done your homework!

By |2018-03-25T21:09:28-05:00March 25th, 2018|Fundraising|

Curiosity as an Organizational Development Tool

People come to libraries with a desire to learn or know something — to satisfy their curiosity.  Library staff facilitate this process by offering information, resources, and personal assistance.  Indeed, libraries value and cultivate a spirit of inquisitiveness in their communities and strive to meet these needs in the best way possible.

But how can library staff focus curiosity inward for the purpose of organizational development?  How can libraries translate the natural curiosity of their staff into increased community impact?

I found some inspiration in a recent Super Soul Conversation podcast.  I’m a bit of a late podcast adopter and have never had much time for Oprah’s Sunday show (too busy making pancakes and catching up on household chores), but I’m thrilled that these conversations are now accessible during my daily commute.

Oprah is a naturally curious person (imagine a reference interview with her!) and her conversations hold juicy bits of information that apply to libraries, especially her conversation with Hollywood producer Brian Grazer.  (Clips from the original Super Soul Sunday episode here.  Podcast on iTune here.  Or find on your favorite podcast app.)  

Centered on his 2015 book “A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life,” Granzer describes how he uses curiosity for connection. This is what libraries do!  They connect with people (in-person and virtually) through curiosity.

But Grazer takes curiosity one step further, using it as a framework for personal improvement through a series of regular “Curiosity Conversations.”  It is his personal mission to meet new people and talk with them about their lives.  The conversations go in many directions, letting curiosity take the lead.  The result is a deeper connection to the person and the world around him.

What a great program idea for libraries!  Imagine a series of “Curiosity Conversations” for people to learn about each other as a way to cultivate collective connection in the community.

But beyond programming, “Curiosity Conversations” can be a powerful tool for library staff (and their boards!) as part of strategic/annual planning or as a step in an evaluation process.  Libraries sometimes gloss over evaluation (it takes time and resources!), but it is a critical component to measure improvement, celebrate success, and then set new goals.  Using curiosity as the framework for an evaluation dialogue puts everyone at ease and allows questions and data to flow.

Start by focusing on a particular service or program and ask:

  • What’s working?  How do we know we are achieving our goals?
  • How can we improve?  What would increase use, attendance, or satisfaction?
  • What other information do we need to gather?  Who else needs to be involved?

Spend time reflecting.  Take some notes.  And then talk about it again.  Use curiosity as a vehicle for improvement at your library.

Beyond internal reflection, “Curiosity Conversations” work as a framework for personal improvement, too.  I worked in a hospital system as a performance consultant for a short period of time and I learned so much about libraries.  Yes!  I learned about libraries by working at a hospital.

Maybe you don’t know anyone at a hospital or are skeptical that someone working in manufacturing has anything to say that’s applicable to your library work.  That’s ok, start with your library colleagues.  Ask them what’s going well, what they are learning, where they think they need to improve, and how they plan to do that

Then think about what you want to learn.  So many aspects of library operations and management parallel other nonprofits and businesses, why not reach out for some creative ideas that might provide a different point of view?  You might be surprised at what a new connection yields (and think of the program possibilities!).

Curiosity opens doors and creates connection! Want to have a “Curiosity Conversation?”  Let’s talk!

By |2018-02-04T14:40:56-06:00February 4th, 2018|Organizational Development|

What is a Fast Forward Library?

Welcome! Does your library think about individual and organizational improvement? Capacity building? Learning organizations? To me, a Fast Forward Library cares deeply about all these things! I started this project as a division of my nonprofit consulting practice because I’m passionate about helping libraries grow and increase their impact through organizational development. I want to help libraries become more strategic by taking time to reflect, learn, and plan.

So why Fast Forward Libraries?

  • Fast is a nod to one of my favorite publications, Fast Company. I’m always inspired by their articles and ideas and find them relevant to libraries. I was an early subscriber and always made sure the libraries where I worked had it on the shelf.
  • Forward is where I want libraries to go. I love thinking of libraries as a movement, as a community organization that can improve the lives of individuals by connecting them with resources vital to their advancement. Libraries move entire communities forward by providing services that users didn’t even know they needed, but add to the quality of their lives and permanently change their habits and relationships. Forward is progress.
  • Libraries are everything. There are few problems that the library can’t help solve. Lonely? You can meet people at the library or just sit quietly in the company of others (including characters in a book). Entrepreneurial? Check out a book on how to start a business or connect with a business mentor online using a public computer. Lost? Maps, directions, career resources, self-help books — libraries can help you find the way. Truly, the library has it all.

What can you expect from Fast Forward Libraries? I hope to use this platform to bring innovative ideas about library capacity building to anyone interested. I’m always reading articles about individual and organizational development and I can’t help but think about how to use these ideas in a library setting. I want to share these ideas with you. Interested in learning more? Please sign up for my newsletter. I promise to only send content that will help your consider new ways to improve your library.

I hope you’ll find my perspective interesting and think about how your library can be a Fast Forward Library.


By |2018-02-03T11:12:26-06:00January 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|