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Library Pickers and Other Fundraising Ideas

by on March 14, 2013

It is well-known that many public libraries, while providing essential services, are also struggling with budget cuts. What can libraries do to in terms of fundraising to off-set this problem? The Joeten-Kiyu Public Library, located on the island of Saipan, is holding a rummage sale (and a book sale) in order to raise funds for their 20-year anniversary celebration.[1] Booths are $25 for a 10 x 20 foot space.[2] This is a simple idea which increases library visibility and attracts patrons. Patrons benefit with a fun weekend experience of buying interesting items from participating vendors. In turn, the library increases community involvement while making a profit.

On the U.S. mainland, the rummage sale idea would also be a unique way to bring more patrons to the library. With a renewed interest in TV shows like American Pickers, Antiques Roadshow, and Market Warriors, a rummage sale could provide libraries with an attention grabbing fundraising theme. Such events could be overseen by a few devoted employees, volunteers, or the local Friends of the Library. Perhaps workshops about antique collecting could be held in conjunction with the book or rummage sale? When selling older or rare books, Cecilia Hogan suggests prices could be raised above $1 in order to increase sales.[3] However the event is planned, this may be a viable way for libraries to increase fundraising monies.

In my town, a portion of the farmer’s market profits supports a local hospice organization. Could libraries partner with citizens and local businesses to create a similar event? In addition to the produce being sold, the library could highlight its collections by setting up a booth on health related topics. The Howard County Library System in Maryland sponsors a few farmers’ markets. While the website does not mention whether the library receives some of the proceeds, this idea might be worth exploring. Events like these could result in a successful experience for all. Libraries are constantly looking for ways to prove their value and reach out their communities. A little planning and some creative ideas could make the traditional book sale more engaging, and lead to a successful fundraising campaign.

[1] Raquel C. Bagnol, “Booths available for public library rummage sale on Feb. 23,” Marianas Variety, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013, http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/53560-booths-available-for-public-library-rummage-sale-on-feb-23 .

[2] Ibid.

[3] Cecilia Hogan, “Library Book Sales,” Searcher, 16, no.3 (2008): 36-46. ABI/INFORM Complete, http://search.proquest.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/docview/221048873?accountid=10361  .

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