Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage?

Peter Pearson of Library Strategies is a library champion. Serving as the President of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library for over 25 years, he is no stranger to fundraising and advocacy, some of the biggest challenges facing libraries today. If hearing how awesome this session is going to be from us is not enough, now you get to hear it from the man himself:

Don’t think about the couple who never fights (they do).  And, don’t think about the husband and wife who share chores, have perfect kids and are never in debt (all fiction). Instead think about what a perfect marriage in the library world would look like.

In today’s world, libraries are working harder to meet their community’s needs, closing branches, shortening hours and, generally, doing more with less resources.  Is there a way to turn this scenario into a positive picture?  I believe there is.

The libraries that are thriving in today’s challenging times are ones that have created “the perfect marriage”.  The marriage is a combination of engaging in fundraising for private support and conducting advocacy activities for ongoing public funding.  Doing only one of these is actually hampering the effort of the other.


Take fundraising…it’s a tough sell to go to individual donors, foundations and corporations if they view public funders (cities and counties) as not supporting the library adequately.  These private donors often see funding a library in this scenario as throwing money into a black hole.

Conversely…going to public funders with support from private sources leverages your request for more public dollars.  Political decision-makers see this as a statement that the library is a priority with individuals, businesses and foundations in the community and are more apt to pay attention to your library’s request.

The library’s perfect marriage is one of engaging all funding stakeholders in your library’s vision for the community.  Strategic, ongoing fundraising and advocacy will lead your library to a much rosier future.

Peter Pearson has been the President of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library  for 25 years and is a lead consultant with Library Strategies.  Pearson will be presenting a preconference workshop for the New Jersey Library Association at its annual conference in Atlantic City on Monday, May 16 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.