Many of us are finishing up or have already turned in our budget requests for 2022. Or some churches start the budget year in October or another month. Budget preparation is an important aspect of what we do through our churches’ libraries.
What have you learned this year as you participated in the budgeting process?
Many of our CLN members do not have a library budget with the church. Those of you who have succeeded in getting the library on the church budget, how did that happen?
Much like when I worked for the federal government, "Use it or Lose it". Our library has been in an influx during our major church remodel and not really operational for much of the year, so it was reduced. I was also hesitant to buy anything during this time until final decisions were made that we would have a Resource Center (more on that later). Therefore, our budget for next year was cut in half. I'm frustrated because I'm completely left out of any budget decisions. I only learn what I know because I go searching for answers.
When the church decided to put us back on the budget 4 years ago, it was a hard-fought process. Recommend laying out the goals (collection needs, annual growth, etc), plus supplies. A budget request needs information to back it up in my opinion. Our associate pastor at the time was also very much on board with the idea of a new Resource Center and he advocated very hard.
For as long as I have been involved with our church library, > 25 years, our church has included the library in the church budget. Fortunately for me, purchase of such things as computers comes from the IT budget rather than the library budget. Software purchases do come from my budget, however. In recent years as our circulation has declined, I have been buying fewer books and not spending the entire amount. However, we now have more children using the library, so I'm hoping to purchase more children's books. In general, the church council is fairly generous with items for childrens' ministries.
We have had the library on the church budget for many years, although at times very small. To increase the budget, I wrote a letter requesting more and gave reasons - cost of books, service and ministry to the congregation, etc. I also kept records even before we had a computer system because business men tend to be on church boards and they like figures. With that, I was able to tell how many people used the library, even a cost per family, books checked out, books donated, etc and I was able to get more money because it was viewed as a thriving ministry. I wrote an annual report for the board as a way of showing stewardship of the funds for the library. It is always worth asking.
I will second everything you've said here! While our library has been in the church budget for awhile, we've had to work to keep it that way. We always explain our purchases (books, supplies to make the books last longer, even something small so we can buy gift cards for our volunteers). We also have board members with businessminded thinking, so I turn in reports similar to what you mentioned.
One major thing I do now is submit stories from patrons in the library. How a book helped them overcome something and answered a question they had but didn't necessarily want to ask. Or a visitor who felt comfortable walking into the library and chatting with me about where they came from and why they were visiting. We even have families who come in to the library to watch the sermon because they feel comfortable sitting in our chairs while their children play and read books next to them. There's no pressure to stay quiet. Always bring in a personal element because that's one thing they are definitely looking for. Stories and testamonials are awesome.
Like you said, it is always worth asking!