This session is being led by Linda Braun, an adjunct faculty member at Simmons GSLIS.
We are having a great discussion about 4 factors that are key to library sustainability--Participation and ownership, financial, technology, and external political and economic factors. Points brought up about participation and ownership in libraries included involving the entire community--staff, users, etc.--and making sure there are ways that everyone can participate. Librarians should seek input from users and let users know we want their input. Involve users in the planning process. Through marketing and outreach, libraries can let the community know what the library's mission is and how community involvement can keep the library sustainable.
Financial and technology factors are definitely tied together. Libraries need money to buy computers, but who is controlling your technology budget line (is it the library, the town, a board)? And technology is not the only financial crunch for libraries. Libraries need money to pay for staff, maintenance, utilities, and of course the collections. External political and economic factors in towns, states and even at the federal level impact the financial stability of public libraries.
Even though this session is focused on small and rural libraries, the discussion is applicable for academic, special and school libraries as well. One aspect of financial and technology sustainability that was brought up was simply the ability to keep up with new technologies. Most libraries have a website, but in order to remain sustainable we need to use social network sites and tools. I've worked in an academic library and now work in a special library and this topic of social network tools is a hot one in all types of libraries. Even though many tools are free, we need time to contribute to them well. And time means money in libraries.
Participants in this session have been asked to consider the factors that impact their library's sustainability. One factor that impacts my library's sustainability is simply keeping people coming in the door. Because I am a special librarian, I need to make sure that I order books and films that my users can't necessarily get at their public libraries. What factors impact your library's sustainability?