If you’ve never written a proposal, be prepared, you’ll probably be tasked with writing one at some point in your career. And if you’re able to skirt by the next 30 years without writing one, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Writing strong and effective technology proposals is something that we, as educators and library professionals, should be able to do and be able to do well. Odds are, if we’re going to implement innovative and creative technology in our libraries, we’ll probably have to make a strong case for it to appear in the budget. Let’s face it, innovative technologies like 3D printers, vinyl cutters and professional recording studios don’t exactly fall into the “essential needs of the library” budget line, nor do the latest and greatest computers for that matter. While Macs are cool, they aren’t that cool.
Unless you happen to work for one of those five-star-Library-Journal-endless-budget-how-do-they-keep-doing-it-libraries, you need to accept the fact that you’ll have to put in some extra effort if you want your library to be able to keep up with what’s hot.
The following steps are a framework for creating proposals that will get people to listen:
1. What do you want? How much does it cost? Who cares?
The most important part of any proposal is identifying the thing that you actually want and how much it costs. This is simple and needs little explanation. What is not simple, however, is pinpointing who will actually care or truly benefit from the things we purchase. The best way I’ve found to begin this process is to first propose my idea (and cost) to some of my very close non-library friends. The ones who will tell it like it is. If their response is, “Why would the library waste money on that?” or the rhetorical “Who cares?” and I cannot convince them to respond otherwise, I probably have some more thinking to do. For further information on this, see step 3, “Purpose.”
2. Know your audience: Think about who are you proposing to and tailor it towards them. The Library Board? Management? The Director? Friends of the Library?
If you’re proposing that the library should purchase a 3D printer, find out what would interest those who are you proposing to. Is the Board President an avid Star Trek fan? Of course she can print a replica of the Starship Enterprise with the new 3D printer.
Want to learn the rest of the steps? Head over to DigitalLearn.org.
Jason Pinshower is the Information Services Librarian and the Technology Trainer at the Fox River Valley Public Library District in Illinois where he creates and teaches technology courses, develops the eBook collection and manages the 3D printer among many other things. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.