On Monday, February 11, two noted library directors will participate in a public forum at Knight Memorial Library entitled “How Libraries Raise Money.” They will discuss the development strategies they have used and reflect upon what has worked and what hasn’t and why. Their experiences and insights will provide an invaluable perspective as Providence city officials, PPL trustees and library supporters consider PPL’s future options.
Director Kathryn Taylor has led Westerly Public Library for the past ten years, after nearly twenty years as Littleton NH public library director where she earned that library an “Excellence in Rural Libraries Award.” Since becoming WPL director, Ms. Taylor has increased the library’s visibility in the community, thereby increasing public support for fund-raising as well.
The Westerly Public Library has one of the highest circulation figures in the state of Rhode Island and it is currently in the midst of a multi-million dollar capital campaignto raise money for space reallocation in the library and renovations to the adjoining Wilcox Park. With strong support from surrounding communities, committed public officials and an impressive number of library advocates, the fund-raising campaign is making so much progress that it has been highlighted by Act for Libraries.
Having spent many years as a librarian in affluent suburbs, Louise Blalock took on the challenges of heading a large urban library system in a city confronting economic distress when she became chief librarian of the Hartford Public Library in 1994. Her achievements at HPL have resulted in her selection as Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal in 2001.
Hartford Mayor Michael Peters has asserted that she “created a new, modern, urban model focused on the diverse needs of the many cultures that represent our city and has forged strong partnerships with the schools and neighborhoods.” Paul Shipman of the HPL board has been equally impressed with her achievements, noting that “while difficult economic times in the 1990s could have resulted in belt-tightening at the library, [she] galvanized government and public support [and] not only preserved all nine branches but succeeded in starting a multimillion-dollar campaign to upgrade several branches and nearly double the size of the Central Library.” Both Kathryn Taylor and Louise Blalock have undertaken a variety of successful fundraising campaigns, using diverse approaches and tactics and enlisting the aid of public officials, library patrons, donors, board members, and corporate sponsors. They have also learned to be realistic, to be aware that some efforts are likely to be more effective than others, to understand that sometimes libraries can’t raise enough money to support all the programs, services and building upgrades they might wish for–but also to know that one mustn’t aim too low, either. The Library Reform Group encourages you to attend this public forum, at Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Visit the Library Reform Group website for directions to Knight Memorial.