Monthly Archives: November 2010

Values and Guiding Principles – Revisited


Serendipity is a wondrous thing in life. While on vacation back East with our daughter over the Thanksgiving holiday, we were discussing Vision, Mission and Value statements (21st Century Library Strategic Plan – Values and Guiding Principles) for the 21st Century library while driving down the road. We pulled alongside of an 18-wheel truck with a trailer that had both Mission and Value statements – right there on the side of the trailer – in very succinct and definitive terms.

Fortunately, I had a camera, so here is an example of how an organization can make its guiding statements clear to the public.

Just three words that capture the Mission of the organization; Logistics, Transportation, Distribution. Not elaborate, just succinct and easily understood by the organization’s market.

Unfortunately, this picture below was not as good quality, but the Value Statement was impressive.


In case it’s not readable enough:

6 values
one direction >

Integrity
People
Customer Service
Entrepreneurship
Performance
Social Responsibility

Another simple and succinct, relevant, useful and publically displayed message.

Excellent examples. Thanks NFI!

Anyone else seen any good statements displayed lately?

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Strategic Planning – So What?


The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 1 – Why Develop a Strategic Plan of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“Technology is changing. Customers are changing. Employees are changing. Communities are changing. Doing things the way we’ve always done them is shortsighted and impractical in the face of drastic 21st Century change. Strategies and processes that worked in the past will not be as effective in the future because both the internal and external environments are dramatically changing. At best, old methods will lead to stagnation, which will leave your library further behind what it should be to survive in the current environment. At worst, maintaining a status quo will lead to your library becoming irrelevant to your community, and eventually to its closure.
A strategic plan requires you to consider the changes in your environment, and to establish and prioritize goals and objectives, which will achieve your mission and vision in the face of these challenges.” [Pg. 1]

“Why is this important?” It is imperative before you begin the process to ensure that you have a consensus among the organization that strategic planning is an important and essential tool for success. Only then will you have the true commitment as opposed to empty agreements. True commitment will be required for participants to provide meaningful contributions to a process that will result in a useful plan with the possibility of effective implementation on all levels.” [Pg. 5]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.

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Libraries Reinventing Themselves?


I suspect that by now most of you have read the LA Times article by David Sarno, published November 12, Libraries reinvent themselves as they struggle to remain relevant in the digital age. It has gotten a lot of buzz, mostly because it makes many wide-ranging claims about the future of public libraries, and casts dubious credulity on them remaining relevant in the 21st Century.

I’ve made no pretence about my opinion of “news reporters” and their inability to maintain objectivity and refrain from sensationalizing an otherwise routine story. This is a good example of why.

That spirit of bookish defiance has guided the makeover of the suburban Denver library system …. Reference desks and study carrels have been replaced by rooms where kids can play Guitar Hero. Overdue book fines have been eliminated, and the arcane Dewey Decimal System has been scrapped in favor of bookstore-like sections organized by topic.

“That spirit of bookish defiance …” What exactly is that? The DPL is defiant of books, so they are making their library into something else, or they are defensive of books so they’ve made books the core of their library, just re-designed their distribution? Does anybody understand “bookish defiance”? Thus my point!

As this Blog has stressed repeatedly, libraries MUST reinvent themselves to remain relevant in the 21st Century! And, they must do it in those ways that Director Pam Sandlian-Smith stated; “We have to reframe what the library means to the community.”

The Times author also tries to make a case for eBooks taking over the market place, and provides fodder for the argument.

Piracy concerns have also limited the supply of popular new titles. None of the bestselling “Harry Potter” books, for example, is available in a digital version. Publishers and some authors are concerned that books, once online, can easily be copied and shared without authorization.

In other cases, such as the new Jonathan Franzen bestseller “Freedom,” the book is available to consumers as an e-book, but the publisher does not offer electronic versions to libraries. The book’s publisher, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux., declined to comment on whether piracy concerns affected its decision to hold the digital version of “Freedom” out of libraries.

IS THAT EVEN LEGAL? – Libraries buy their books like everybody else. Are publishers seriously entitled to refuse to sell eBooks to selected segments of the market? Since when is library lending of legally obtained materials against some law? Is there a conspiracy underway against libraries?

The article also points out that

E-book collections at U.S. libraries grew nearly 60% between 2005 and 2008, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. During the same period libraries’ print collections grew less than 1%, though ink-on-paper works still make up 98% of U.S. libraries’ holdings.

trying to (no doubt) make a case for eBooks being the future of literature. And in fair and balanced fashion, the author provides an alternative opinion from Joan Frye Williams, a library consultant and futurist, who “… believes that the underlying purpose of libraries will not change, even if bookshelves disappear. “Saying that there’s a challenge to libraries because books are changing would be like saying there’s a challenge to family dinner because plates are changing,” she said.”

Ms. Williams, who apparently hasn’t published anything since 2002, surely had more to say than to imply that the demise of the family dinner is due to something other than the changed place settings, but we don’t know. Although four years ago Christopher Harris reported that she was presenting ways to “pimp your library”, so who knows the truth about what anybody says.

What we do know is that libraries are impacted by SO MANY 21st Century factors as to be challenged to remain relevant.

Possibly the most egregious indictment for libraries reinventing themselves is implied around the comments of former ALA President Michael Gorman.

“If you want to have game rooms and pingpong tables and God knows what — poker parties — fine, do it, but don’t pretend it has anything to do with libraries,” said Michael Gorman, a former president of the American Library Assn. “The argument that all these young people would turn up to play video games and think, ‘Oh by the way, I must borrow that book by Dostoyevsky’ — it seems ludicrous to me.”

Is ALA weighing-in, in the person of Michael Gorman, to say that libraries should not reinvent themselves, or that those who do are no longer libraries? Or is the reporter simply trying to make a story titillating?

That assumption is supported by the author’s stand alone assertion that “…public libraries in particular are looking to become more like community centers.” using DPL as an example – a gross mischaracterization – and another vague reference to Charlotte, NC’s Imaginon, which is not a replacement of a library.

Is there any competent authority that says public libraries want to become community centers? If there is, I’d love to hear from that person!

I guess just stating Director of the Rangeview Library District (Anythink) Pam Sandlian-Smith’s observation; “We have to reframe what the library means to the community.” is not enough for some people. Libraries reinventing themselves has to be “dramatic”. Why do you suppose that is?

Could it be that everybody truly loves their library and has their own ideas about what it should or should not be – usually rooted in their past experience? It is people who love their library who will keep it relevant for their community!

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Business Model Revisited – Business Acumen


Upon reflection, my 21st Century Librarianship – Part 4, Business Model should have been business acumen. While the need to adopt more business-like library operations is essential, adopting a business model is not a skill – acquiring business acumen is!

In my Business Model Post of November 10, I also discussed a business model strategy that librarians might implement to create a 21st Century Library. In that Post I also reiterated suggestions from a March Post (The 21st Century Library is More: Business-like) about ways 21st Century librarians can operate more like a bottom-line business-type organization that included;

  • • Continuous Assessment
    • Service Oriented
    • Marketing Strategy
    • Innovation
    • Efficient
    • Flexible
    • Responsive
    • Nimble
  • Reemphasizing 21st Century Library – “Rebooted” Into Relevance is ALWAYS worth the space in a Post. Libraries are staying as vibrant, dynamic, and popular as ever by redefining the business they are in.

    The point is that in order to redefine the 21st Century Library’s business, librarians MUST understand business principles, and how to implement them in their library operation. They need to develop their business acumen.

    Unfortunately, what little research has been done on the topic of management courses for librarians reveals that library science schools are not providing this in the MLS curriculum. According to Mackenzie and Smith (2008),

    Where do library directors, and the librarians who perform various management functions as part of their work, receive their management training? A review of the curricula of forty-eight graduate library school programs accredited by the American Library Association revealed that, for the most part, library managers are trained on the job. This paper presents the results of a two-part exploratory study focused on the research question: Do ALA-accredited graduate library education programs offer their students the knowledge they will need to enter leadership and management positions within the library profession? Of the forty-eight programs reviewed, 43.8% did not require management-related courses. A review of twenty-four program syllabi revealed that 58.3% of the management courses included human resource management concepts and 54.2% included strategy, planning and process. The results suggest that the library profession has yet to agree upon the requirements for preparing future librarians for managerial positions and leadership roles.

    [Emphasis added.]
    [Mackenzie, M. and Smith, J. (2008). Management Education for Library Directors: Are graduate library programs providing future library directors with the skills and knowledge they will need? Dowling College, Oakdale, NY.]

    ALA’s Office for Accreditation, with approval of the Council of the American Library Association, has published its 2008 Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. This is their most current “standards” for accreditation of MLS programs.

    The American Library Association through the Committee on Accreditation protects the public interest and provides guidance for educators. Prospective students, employers recruiting professional staff, and the general public concerned about the quality of library and information services have the right to know whether a given program of education is of good standing. By identifying those programs meeting recognized standards, the Committee offers a means of quality control in the professional staffing of library and information services.

    I.2 Mission, Goals, and Objectives
    Program objectives are stated in terms of student learning outcomes to be achieved and reflect
    I.2.1 the essential character of the field of library and information studies; that is, recordable information and knowledge, and the services and technologies to facilitate their management and use, encompassing information and knowledge creation, communication, identification, selection, acquisition, organization and description, storage and retrieval, preservation, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, synthesis, dissemination, and management

    and management of information! At the risk of aggravating someone else at ALA, I have to say, as both a graduate of an MLS program and a professional librarian, as well as an educator, this description does NOT fill me with confidence that there are any real “standards” for our professional education.

    Page 4, “The Standards are indicative, not prescriptive, with the intent to foster excellence through the development of criteria for evaluating educational effectiveness.” What does this mean? Anybody speak academiana? To me it means essentially, ALA’s accreditation “standards” are nothing more than vaguely described expectations and recommendations that they would like for MLS program institutions to follow. We’ll let you decide what you teach, and the proof is in the pudding.

    SERIOUSLY? Does anybody need to ever wonder again why the old adage persists – “What they don’t teach you in library school.” We are about to enter the second decade of the 21st Century and ALA has YET to agree upon requirements for preparing future librarians for managerial positions and leadership roles.

    And, what about the actual “standards” for the librarian profession. Were Mackenzie and Smith totally right? “The results suggest that the library profession has yet to agree upon the requirements for preparing future librarians for managerial positions and leadership roles.” According to ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship (Final version, Approved by the ALA Executive Board, October 25th 2008, Approved and adopted as policy by the ALA Council, January 27th 2009), the only use of the terms manage or management regards “management of various collections”. Not even under Section 8. Administration and Management will you find the word management.

    However, in the interest of fairness, Section 8. Administration and Management does contain one reference to leadership, and one element of 21st Century librarianship. But remember, “This document defines the basic knowledge to be possessed by all persons graduating from an ALA-accredited master’s program in library and information studies.” (Sounds more like the Accreditation standards than standards of a profession. Again – let’s leave it up to the MLS graduate programs.)

    8A. The principles of planning and budgeting in libraries and other information agencies.
    8B. The principles of effective personnel practices and human resource development.
    8C. The concepts behind, and methods for, assessment and evaluation of library services and their outcomes.
    8D. The concepts behind, and methods for, developing partnerships, collaborations, networks, and other structures with all stakeholders and within communities served.
    8E. The concepts behind, issues relating to, and methods for, principled, transformational leadership.

    So, apparently there is a SIGNIFICANT disconnect between what MLS programs are teaching and what ALA says they are supposed to teach. But, I guess since the ALA accreditation standards are “indicative, not prescriptive”, even though the Core Competencies document “defines the basic knowledge to be possessed by all persons graduating from an ALA-accredited master’s program”, the reality of the situation is that “43.8% did not require management-related courses”, and ONLY “58.3% of the management courses included human resource management concepts and 54.2% included strategy, planning and process.” If my math is correct, ONLY just over half of MLS programs require courses in management, and ONLY just over half of those include core competencies of planning and budgeting and human resources.

    Hmmmmm. Sounds like maybe there is a correlation between “What they don’t teach you in library school.” and a general inability within the profession to conceive of libraries in a business model. “Transformational leadership”? Sounds important! How do you suppose that is going to emerge?

    One library director I know personally who has earned both MLS and MBA degrees told me that she did so because the hiring trend toward hiring library directors with MBAs was on the increase, and she wanted to be more competitive. Still in her 30s, she became director of a major metro library system three years ago, less than five years after earning her MBA.

    This example below is from a visionary library board looking for librarians capable of leading their library into the 21st Century. Mark Skinner Library in Manchester Vermont:

    As a result of a strategic planning process the Library Board of Trustees recognized the need to upgrade the library to better serve the community. We are currently working with an architectural firm to either enlarge our current facility or move and build a new library. We are looking for a full time Library Director to participate in making the Mark Skinner Library a great 21st century library.
    The ideal candidate is an individual with:
    1. Commitment to the mission and philosophy of public library service.
    2. Excellent leadership, communication and interpersonal skills.
    3. Demonstrated development/fund-raising skills
    4. Familiarity with capital campaigns
    5. Knowledge of marketing and public relations
    6. Financial experience developing budgets and monitoring expenditures
    MBA or MLS preferred.

    [Emphasis added.]

    Are you prepared to apply for this position? If you expect a future career as a librarian – YOU SHOULD BE!

    “21st Century Librarians Create 21st Century Libraries.” It’s up to you to become one in order to create one!

    What other skills would you recommend for 21st Century Librarianship?

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    21st Century Librarianship – Part 7, Reference


    Reference

    To say reference in the 21st Century will be different is a huge understatement. Because of mobile technologies, the information environment has radically changed and librarians can not expect to interact with 21st Century customers using 20th Century reference methods.

    The ORE [Ohio Reference Excellence] on the WEB program is a reference librarian course of “Six self-paced modules cover the reference process, with resource links, exercises, and quizzes.” Module 2. Interview, states;

    The different generations have different styles of getting and using information. Articles about different generations are summarized in Digital Native or Digital Immigrant. Ease with technology is one outstanding difference. “Millennials, also known as Generation Y, the Net Generation, the Digital Generation, the Echo Boom generation were born during the period of about 1980 – 2001 and are in our schools, universities, and recently have entered adulthood. And while only the youngest of this Millennial generation, sometimes known as Generation Z, have been surrounded by digital technology from infancy, the others have grown up and have extensive experience with the web and other technologies. These “digital natives” often pose a challenge to librarians, many of whom are Boomers or Generation X and are “digital immigrants.”

    Despite some minor inaccuracies in the statement that date the material, as well as a 2006 reference and a lack of mobile technology in library reference, the general principle is correct – a Digital Immigrant reference librarian trying to provide reference assistance to a Digital Native can be intimidating.

    Mobile friendly social media such as text messaging, Twitter and Facebook are portals, able to connect patrons to reference information, and most Millennials prefer to use them rather than face-to-face information seeking. Let’s face it – young people text each other when they’re in the same room. Why should we expect them to “Ask a Librarian”?

    Since information is available at a touch, any time, any where, instantly, libraries must become as convenient and accessible as any of them. QR codes and location services (like foursquare) can create direct links to reference desks and librarians to facilitate those 21st Century reference transactions. Reference must be flexible and reflect the changing ways users seek and interact with information. Geosocial Networking is another evolving realm for Millennial users. “Geosocial networking is a type of social networking in which geographic services and capabilities such as geocoding and geotagging are used to enable additional social dynamics. User-submitted location data or geolocation techniques can allow social networks to connect and coordinate users with local people or events that match their interests.” (Sounds like an information market niche that libraries could take advantage of.)


    There is a trend toward personalized and specialized reference service with a business model moving toward call centers with tiered reference services. Reference is also moving out of the library as librarians embed themselves in committees, boards and research teams providing essential information to their professional and local community leaders.

    Here’s a surprise for most of us – The Embedded Librarian Blog began July 3, 2007 with this statement – “Welcome to The Embedded Librarian blog. This blog is dedicated to exploring and analyzing the trend of embedding librarians in teams and communities of all kinds, in various types of organizations. Future posts will discuss the many dimensions of this trend. I invite you to join me and add your contributions.”
    Who knew? ……………………. Seriously! Who knew?

    The role of librarian as expert researcher handing information to a waiting patron is counter to the collaborative, participative mindset of the Millennial generation. Reference librarians need to become guides to participants.

    George M. Needham, VP Member Services, Online Computer Library Center, is quoted as saying; “The librarian as information priest is as dead as Elvis.” The whole “gestalt” [the essence of an entity’s complete form taken in its totality] of the academic library has been set up like a church, Needham said, with various parts of a reading room acting like “the stations of the cross,” all leading up to the “altar of the reference desk,” where “you make supplication and if you are found worthy, you will be helped.” (When ‘Digital Natives’ Go to the Library, Inside Higher Ed., June 25, 2007.) I think everyone agrees that this sacrosanct position of reference librarian has gone with the last century.

    Since reference librarianship is almost a discipline in itself, this Post coverage has by necessity been rather cursory, but hopefully it has opened some eyes and minds to the drastic types of changes in this profession – 21st Century vs. 20th Century. It is not your Grandma’s library any more – it is your Grandkids!

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    21st Century Librarianship – Part 6, Advocacy


    Advocacy.

    My previous Post on the topic of 21st Century Library Advocacy contained less Advocacy and more frustration that ALA has not addressed this whole 21st Century Library issue. So, in an effort to rectify that rant, this Post will focus on Advocacy.

    AND, I’ll begin with an example from our friend – Wikipedia. As surprising at is sounds, there is a Public library advocacy page with some excellent examples of public library advocacy, as well as examples of Successes and Failures. It is a surprisingly long article with considerable information from the history of public library advocacy to local, state and national efforts. It is chockfull of handy tips and suggestions and programs – but it is virtually ALL traditional advocacy – nothing new or 21st Century about it. (Much credit goes to the librarians who created this resource.)

    ADVOCACY TECHNIQUES

    I am open to the possibility of conceding that in some areas of 21st Century Librarianship there may be little if any distinction between 21st Century and previous century practices – although I have seen no clear evidence of that to date – and, library advocacy “techniques” may be that small specific area. Otherwise, all evidence points toward distinct differences between then and now.

    While it is not only impressive but satisfying that libraries are saving themselves through grassroots and other advocacy efforts using what appears to be traditional advocacy techniques, my assessment of circumstances and environments indicate significant changes in this Century, so much so that traditional advocacy efforts will become ineffective – if not now very soon – certainly as regards the “library advocacy message”.

    If you read the Successes and Failures section of the Wikipedia article, the major distinction seems to be the public support element – very high in the successes and very low in the failures. Activism vs. Apathy. While it seems obvious this is a key element of any community progress effort, maybe one difference in having public support or not is the message. How long will the public listen to the same tired message of equal access, intellectual freedom and public institution for an educated citizenry before it falls on deaf ears?

    Social Media & Library Advocacy
    In a recent Post at AndyW’s Blog at LISNews.org entitled Social Media & Library Advocacy, he wrote that; “…social media is excellent for reaching a multitude of people, but it lacks some of the strong bonds that turn interest into action.”

    When it comes to online advocacy, it really depends on what you are asking people to do. The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream group was rather easy: join the group! That’s one mouse button click on the interface. From there, I encouraged people to send in their flavor choices through Ben & Jerry’s flavor submission interface. People could suggest their ideas on the group’s wall. It gave any Ben & Jerry people a very easy way to gauge interest in the group: they could visit the page or check on the flavor submissions. Overall, not much was being asked of the people who participated except to join and share. There was an aspect of library advocacy attached to the group in raising awareness for library funding issues. For those who were really taken with the idea, they took the further steps of adding their own.

    In contrast to the Save NJ Libraries group, it was a widely different group for its aim and purpose. There was funding, jobs, and entire library locations at risk if action was not taken. It was more than just join the group and share it; we wanted people to write, call, email, and demonstrate their support for the library. We shared information, developments, and stories playing within the local media to build morale and keep people in the loop as to how others were faring around the state.

    In my opinion, this is what can make or break a social media campaign. It’s not about the believers, it’s about getting the fence sitters to hop on over and toss in their effort. And, from what I have experienced and read about, it’s certainly not easy.

    It appears that there are new advocacy techniques that are worth exploring.

    OLD LIBRARY ADVOCACY MESSAGE

    ALA Washington Office promoted its 2010 Library Advocacy Day with this video.


    One minute, 20 seconds of WHAT? What did you get from this video clip?

    This is a perfect example of an OLD library advocacy message. Maybe telling the viewer something they DON’T know would be more useful. ‘Nuf said!

    NEW LIBRARY ADVOCACY MESSAGE

    What would a new library advocacy message sound like? Interestingly, any change in the same ol’ – same ol’ message will be an improvement. Tell people things they DON’T already know about your library – don’t just repeat “give us more money for the good of the community”. Get them to think about the library differently than ever before – NOT just stacks, story hours, and shush.

    Return on Investment
    One new message element involves the ROI – return on investment – or, the value of the public tax dollars spent on the library that come back to the public in tangible and intangible ways. This fact-based information brings a sense of credibility to economic benefits of investments in the local library. If the library can state, based on ROI proven analysis techniques, which for every tax dollar invested into the library citizens receive $5 return on their investment, which means libraries are a good investment! While all other departments of government are obvious “cost centers”, the library can be seen as a “profit center” in the sense that it returns more to the community than it costs. Who wouldn’t invest in that? (Resources for ROI information are in my March 8 Post “The 21st Century Library is More:”.)

    New Content
    One example is based on OCLC’s 2008 study From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America that explored attitudes and perceptions about library funding. It is a seminal study in the sense that it gives every local advocacy group tools to use to understand their public and how people are inclined to act or not act regarding their “vote” to support their local library. The findings include:

  • • Library funding support is only marginally related to library visitation.
    Perceptions of librarians are an important predictor of library funding support.
    • Voters who see the library as a transformational force rather than an informational source are more likely to increase taxes in its support.
  • Translated into your “New Library Advocacy Message”, these findings sound to me like:

  • • Don’t bother to harp on circulation or library visits, or “who” is using the library. Numbers won’t help you that much, and you’re using valuable time reiterating facts that are generally common knowledge that could be better spent on HOW your library is valuable to the community.
    • Ensure that the public perception of your librarians is VERY positive (i.e., an argument FOR customer service equaling library advocacy), both by expertise as well as by professionalism.
    • Promote your library as transformational, rather than informational. Tell your story of how you transformed someone’s life!
  • There is NOTHING easy about advocacy! Getting people inspired to ACT is ESSENTIAL to the success of any library advocacy effort. Giving people a NEW LIBRARY ADVOCACY MESSAGE to persuade them to ACT is CRITICAL.

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    Sure Sign That Times Are Tough


    In case you haven’t relied upon Wikipedia (I still contend it is NOT a four-letter word.) as an information resource lately, you may not have seen the banner asking you to read the message from Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales.

    Visit ANY Wikipedia page and click on the banner link and Jimmy’s message states:

    An appeal from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
    I got a lot of funny looks ten years ago when I started talking to people about Wikipedia.

    Let’s just say some people were skeptical of the notion that volunteers from all across the world could come together to create a remarkable pool of human knowledge – all for the simple purpose of sharing.

    No ads. No agenda. No strings attached.

    A decade after its founding, nearly 400 million people use Wikipedia and its sister sites every month – almost a third of the Internet-connected world.

    It is the 5th most popular website in the world – but Wikipedia isn’t anything like a commercial website. It is a community creation, written by volunteers making one entry at a time. You are part of our community. And I’m writing today to ask you to protect and sustain Wikipedia.

    Together, we can keep it free of charge and free of advertising. We can keep it open – you can use the information in Wikipedia any way you want. We can keep it growing – spreading knowledge everywhere, and inviting participation from everyone.

    Each year at this time, we reach out to ask you and others all across the Wikimedia community to help sustain our joint enterprise with a modest donation of $20, $35, $50 or more.

    If you value Wikipedia as a source of information – and a source of inspiration – I hope you’ll choose to act right now.

    All the best,
    Jimmy Wales
    Founder, Wikipedia

    P.S. Wikipedia is about the power of people like us to do extraordinary things. People like us write Wikipedia, one word at a time. People like us fund it, one donation at a time. It’s proof of our collective potential to change the world.

    On the right-hand side of the page is a form to select and send your tax deductable donation of $20, $35, $50 or $100, or you can use your credit card, and even PayPal.

    Talk about hard times! I won’t question Mr. Wales’ statement that “Each year at this time, we reach out to ask you … to help sustain our joint enterprise….” But, in my personal experience, I have NEVER seen this banner or this appeal for funding support. And, I’ve made no secret about being a Wikipedia user. I’ve actually been a contributor to Wikipedia in the not too distant past. (IMHO Wikipedia fills an important niche in providing information of not too critical nature. I can’t say I would use Wikipedia for medical information, but as far as preparing for a trip to Hoboken, NJ – SURE!)

    My real point is that if Wikipedia has to solicit for funds, that is a sure sign that times are tough. If times are hard for Wikipedia, it’s no wonder that times are hard for funding our local libraries. The ONLY good news is that the funding sources are totally different pots of money.

    Believe it or not, the appeal to respective supporters may be very similar between Wikipedia and your local library, in that; “Together, we can keep it free of charge and free of advertising. We can keep it open – you can use the information in Wikipedia any way you want. We can keep it growing – spreading knowledge everywhere, and inviting participation from everyone.”

    Doesn’t that sound like an appeal you could make to your library supporters? Keep it open. That’s an appeal we constantly make! Keep it free of advertising. Seriously, in this 21st Century climate, commercial advertising in the public library is NOT a far stretch of the imagination. You can use the information … any way you want. Isn’t that exactly what we sell! Keep it growing – spreading knowledge everywhere, and inviting participation from everyone. More of what we espouse – growth, spreading knowledge, and participation from everyone. This is a spot on message!

    IN my estimation – This is NOT your Grandpa’s advocacy! Times have changed, issues have changed, needs have changed. Advocate any way that reaches your funders!

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