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Lobbying Your Governing Body for Library Funds:

Communicate Clearly and Deploy Library Champions

Dec 01, 2010

Two strategies key to successful lobbying for academic library funding

Adequate funding is vital to keeping a library alive. Beihang University, formerly named Beijing University of Aerospace and Astronomy, has been undergoing a dramatic change from being a polytechnic to a comprehensive academic institute. This transformation is posing a big challenge for our library: We now need to raise additional funds to provide academic resources supporting newly built disciplines, such as bioscience, engineering, law, economics and literature.

In a word, lobbying for library funds isn’t easy work for a library director at this time.

Generally, for Chinese university libraries, funding is mainly dependent on their governing bodies and rarely comes from external sources. As I’ve served as a library director since 2005, experience has taught me that there are strategies that can help improve your success when lobbying governing bodies for library funding.

First, communicating clearly means the library director should make sure the governing body, possibly including vice presidents in charge of the library and financial affairs, is regularly updated on the library’s financial requirements and situation. Communicating clearly involves building closer relationships. When library directors enjoy closer relationships with library funding bodies, we understand better our universities’ annual financial and strategic plans. And then we’re able to submit more constructive and easily approved library budgets.

Second, asking library champions to help in outreach is another efficient way to help communicate the value of the library to the university and secure library funding. Our practice is to make the key professor of each discipline responsible for helping spread the good word, universitywide, about the library. What key professors have said can have a great impact even with the university president.

Our practice is to make the key professor of each discipline responsible for helping spread the good word, universitywide, about the library.

In a word, lobbying for library funds isn’t easy work for a library director at this time. It is a problem, solving one problem only to find another cropping up. A director today must not only struggle for enough budget, but balance the different requirements. But a little bit of strategy can go a long way.

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