Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where's the Money Coming From?

This week, as we explored whether money is the determining factor in program success, the class shared the many ways they find funding or press the creativity button:

* Small grants
* Generous donor
* Business donations of food or coupons
* Friends of the Library
* Lions Club or other local service organizations
* Endowment funds
* Regular library budget funds (my personal favorite)

In the end the class had some strong feelings about the relationship of money to program success:
  • Money is nice – I certainly wouldn’t turn it down if offered – but staff creativity and enthusiasm are the real keys to successful programming. An idea that grabs participants’ interest and imagination is just as likely to cost little-to-nothing as $20.00.
  • There were times when we had some money for programs and times when we did not. It's seems like that the times we didn't have alot of money our creativity was high. Our library is in a small town so we are able to find somebody who knows somebody that could do a program for us for little to no cost. One past SLP I was able to get all 8 weeks of programming with community members. It is nice to have money to purchase supplies and upgrading existing programs but I think you can put on quality programming with what you have already.
  • I don't think there's any correlation between good programs and amount spent. I have planned programs that cost anywhere from $0-$500. Just because something is more expensive doesn't necessarily make it better or worse. Also, we’re LIBRARIANS! Resourceful people! I have made whole programs around a theme (free), books (free), paper (cheap), cardboard (free), and online content (free).
  • For years, our only reading incentive in the summer reading program was the honor of being the first person to read a brand new library book. After reading a predetermined number of books, the child could choose a new library book to read. We would place a bookplate in that book that said "Child's Name" was the first person to read this book, with the date. Still have patrons who occasionally come in to look for "their" book. Since the incentive was from the book budget, there was no cost at all for SRP prizes.
  • Does money guarantee the success of a program? No, not any more than if the reverse was true...does a free program guarantee success? Of course not. And yet, some of our most successful programs have been cheap, if not, free. We should not be looking at the funds we have available and then find a program to spend the money on. We should find or prepare programs that we believe will have appeal to our customers, then find the necessary funding.  
  • Perhaps because our budget has never allowed for much money in the programming line item I have grown used to tailoring programs that are not dependent on expensive support to succeed. This may limit us to some degree. Ultimately however kids don't remember what was in the goody bag at the program, they remember what they made or did or the fun they had doing it.
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay


  1. I actually have a really good programming budget - as I frequently explain, I'm not short of money, I'm short of staff to DO something with the money! $$ is nice - I have a couple annual craft programs that are pricey, annual t-shirt decorating, butterfly celebration (everyone gets precut cardboard wings) etc., but i've had just as huge a group for mad scientists club what floats your boat, which cost maybe $10, not counting the swimming pools i bought for $30 a year ago and that we use constantly

    LOVE the idea of being the first to read a book! I'm going to make that a coupon for our summer reading incentives!

  2. I don't "advertise" this, but sometimes parents ask if there's anything I need. So I always keep a wish list handy. If they ask, I tell!