The subject of putting donation boxes in public libraries cropped up recently on one of the professional discussion lists. Now these are not charity collection boxes but are directed at library users donating money to statutory library services.
Cambridgeshire Libraries even have a written policy on this, from which i quote;
"Why should I donate?
Making a donation to Cambridgeshire Libraries, Archive and Information
Service is a voluntary decision, there is no necessity to make any donation at
The Service is funded by the County Council with the money it receives from
central government and from local rates, but the amount received has been
reduced in recent years and we have been asked to make efficiency savings
over the next 3 years. Our elected Members (councillors) have asked us to
generate funds from new forms of income and we hope that many users will
be willing to make a voluntary donation to help us continue to provide the
library service to which people have become accustomed."
Now I don’t know about you but this whole topic concerns me on a number of levels, these being;
Library users already pay for the service through their taxes.
Couldn’t this be seen as a capitulation/surrender to the 'austerity myth' cuts?
And it also strikes me as a very precarious way of funding, or part-funding, a statutory public service. It worries me that if certain parts of the service become dependent on these donations what then happens if the donations dry up?
It's disgraceful first we hold a gun to people’s heads telling them to “run your library or we’ll close it”, meaning that by doing so they are effectively paying for the service twice and then we ask them to fund parts of the service by effectively paying for the service twice.
It’s not in my mind anything to do with being innovative or community minded it’s taking the piss!
For more on this see; http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/2012/01/liverpool.html and http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/campaigning/increasing-income/increasing-income-retail