6. Budgeting Best Practices

Best Practices for Creating a Successful Budget

  • The library budget is the result of local money funding an important local function.  Remind your budgeting authority how its library returns value to the community and aligns with the community’s priorities during every budget cycle (and at every other opportunity).
  • A community’s priorities are the priorities of the community’s library – library patrons and their elected officials need to know exactly how everyone benefits by supporting this community asset.  Patrons (voters) need to let politicians know that they support libraries.  Politicians will gain votes using the same message to voters.
  • Understand how to use comparative data (from similar library communities or against your own library’s historical data) that support your budget narrative.  Have a strong understanding of contemporary and past budget events in your community; learn how to use statistical trends to support your arguments.
  • Your profession is collegial and filled with people who love learning and helping others – remember there are many librarians out there who are willing to share their experiences with you.  Your greatest resource for budgeting advice could be your professional colleagues.
  • Work with the community’s representatives – board members, Trustees, Friends groups, and elected officials.  Whether the economy is waxing or waning, these groups support and care about libraries and will help you to align the budget with the community’s priorities.
  • Budgeting is a year-round practice that requires constant attention; teach staff members and non-staff supporters always to keep their eyes open for opportunities to fine-tune the processes and efficiencies of your library.
  • The community’s library is always about the future of the community – your budget proposal relates directly to the youth of your community.
  • Always keep your message positive - be ready and willing to compromise.
  • You have multitudes of patrons who will never set foot in your library (accessing the library’s resources via the Internet).  Figure out creative ways for  reaching these cyber-patrons to ask for their support.


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