Category Archives: Trustees and Foundations

5 Alternatives to a Fundraising Gala

When we think of a fundraising event, a fancy night out often comes to mind. But is it the most effective way to raise money for your library? Once you calculate the costs, it might have been better to focus your efforts elsewhere.

On their blog, CauseVox suggests five alternatives to a gala:

  1. Hold a community marketplace
  2. Go live on social media
  3. Organize at-home fundraising dinners
  4. Host a game night
  5. Try an UnGala

Read the full post for details and see if one of these ideas might work in your community.


Tidbits from the Trustee Corner

The Trustee Corner from the Colorado Virtual Library is a monthly series featuring information of interest to public library boards. This information from their October 2019 issue was written by Crystal Schimpf, Public Library Specialist, Leadership & Community Development at Colorado State Library.

Trustees play an essential role in shaping the public image of the library and being a positive influencer in the community. Keep reading for tips, resources, and library news that will inspire you to become an even better advocate for your library.

Cultivating Local Notables

Who else in your community might be good advocates for the library? The Cultivating Local Notables Toolkit from the American Library Association (ALA) provides tips and guidance on how to identify well-known community members and ask for their help with library advocacy efforts.

Palaces for the People

Public libraries are an essential part of social infrastructure. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes about the importance of libraries in healthy communities in his book Palaces for the People. In December 2018, Eric spoke to librarians of the New York Public Library in a live interview, which you can listen to in The Librarian is In podcast, episode 121.

Tips for Trustees: Community Engagement

Interested in ideas for how to be better engaged as a library advocate in your community? Review these tips taken from the Colorado Public Library Board & Trustees Pocket Handbook.

The effective trustee will:

check mark

  • Understand and be able to articulate the library’s mission.
  • Be familiar with and support the library services and programs.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between the trustees, the director, the community, and local government officials.
  • Foster community involvement with the library.
  • Maintain a positive relationship with the Friends of the Library and/or Library Foundation.
  • Never miss an opportunity/occasion to build goodwill for the library.

Trustee Trouble: Advocacy

Being a community advocate for the library isn’t easy. To learn about some of the challenges and pitfalls, watch the short video Trustee Trouble: Advocacy created by the Wyoming State Library.

ALA Trustee Citation

Does your library have trustee who deserves recognition at the national level? The Trustee Citation is an award given by the American Library Association (ALA) to recognize public library Trustees for distinguished service to library development. The winner will be honored at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago in June 2020. Submit an application by January 10, 2020.

A Planning Guide to Fundraising

Making a fundraising plan doesn’t need to be daunting. CauseVox recently posted, “Fundraising Planning Guide, Calendar, Worksheet, + Template,” with great tips and tools for a successful year of getting more donations in 2020.

Here are the steps they recommend:

  1. Understand your need and goals
  2. Study your past fundraising trends
  3. List your resources (staff, board, volunteers)
  4. Outline your strategies for the year
  5. Create a path forward

Read more for all the details and a downloadable template and sample calendar.


Patron Privacy for Library Trustees

The Trustee Corner from the Colorado Virtual Library is a monthly series featuring information of interest to public library boards. This information from their September 2019 issue was written by Crystal Schimpf, Public Library Specialist, Leadership & Community Development at Colorado State Library.

The theme of this month’s Trustee Corner is patron privacy in libraries. Patron privacy is a core value of library service, and is an essential component of intellectual freedom, protecting our first amendment rights to access information. Issues of confidentiality and protecting library patron data continue to arise as personal information is increasingly collected, stored, and shared online. Library policies related to privacy and data collection help protect the privacy of patrons by providing guidance and direction for library operations. Trustees play a critical role in helping the library to adopt and develop policies related to patron privacy and confidentiality. The information in this month’s newsletter may help inform the work of the library board in developing, adopting, reviewing, and revising patron privacy policies for the library.

Library Bill of Rights

American Library Association LogoThe American Library Association (ALA) adopted the Library Bill of Rights in 1939. This document serves as an affirmation of library values, stating that “libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.” The document goes on to list seven articles that outline the foundations of library service, including statements on the provision of books and materials, access to information, use of library spaces, and freedom of speech.

The final article is related to patron privacy, and is a recent addition to the Library Bill of Rights, adopted by the ALA Council on January 29, 2019. Some public libraries have chosen to formally adopt the Library Bill of Rights as part of their library policies. For boards who have previously adopted this document, it may be necessary to make a motion or resolution to adopt the current version.

In addition to the Bill of Rights, ALA provides a series of Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights. One of these interpretations specifically addresses Privacy, while others address topics including Challenged ResourcesEquity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Meeting Rooms. These interpretations can be helpful resources when developing, reviewing, and updating library policies.

Privacy Policy Review

For libraries that need to develop a new policy, or review and revise an existing policy, there are several resources available to guide you through the process. The ALA provides guidelines for Developing or Revising a Privacy Policy as part of their Privacy Toolkit. The Choose Privacy Everyday website includes some Sample Policies & Documents from major metropolitan libraries in the United States. The Colorado State Library includes examples for privacy and confidentiality on their Public Library Sample Policies page. For general guidance on policy development, review these free online training materials from the Mid-Hudson (NY) Public Library System.

Public library boards should work with their library director on review and drafting of new or revised policy to ensure that the policy aligns with library operations and values. In county, municipal, or joint libraries, the library board may also need to work with the governing authority. In the case of public libraries that also serve K-12 schools, there may be additional laws and regulations related to parental access to school records of minors. It is important to remember that the library director is responsible for implementing the policy from an operational and procedural perspective.

Wyoming Law

Wyoming’s public records statutes include provisions for patron privacy. W.S. 16-4-201(d)(ix) protects from inspection, “Library patron transaction and registration records except as required for administration of the library or except as requested by a custodial parent or guardian to inspect the records of his minor child.” This information is included in Wyoming Library Laws, an annual ready reference produced by the Wyoming State Library. Please note that the custodian of records in the WYLD system is the Wyoming State Librarian, currently Jamie Markus. Contact him at (307) 777-5914 or with any questions.

National Friends of Libraries Week October 20-26

Friends of Libraries groups have their very own national week of celebration! United for Libraries will coordinate the 14th annual National Friends of Libraries Week from October 20-26, 2019. The celebration offers a two-fold opportunity to celebrate Friends. Use the time to creatively promote your group in the community, to raise awareness, and to promote membership. This is also an excellent opportunity for your library and Board of Trustees to recognize the Friends for their help and support of the library.
Join the celebration:

More information, ideas, and promotional materials are available at

Webinar to Get Ready for #GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is coming up on December 3, 2019. This annual celebration, held each year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. GivingTuesday is an important way for library Friends groups and Foundations to connect with local donors — both new and renewing — for annual giving. The EveryLibrary Institute team can help your library make the most of it.

EveryLibrary is holding a webinar, Giving Tuesday 2019 for Libraries, on Tuesday, October 8 from 9-10 a.m. MDT. They’ll share best practices for successful GivingTuesday fundraising including how to structure your donor appeals, plan successful crowdfunding or donor-challenges using, and how to partner with the EveryLibrary Institute to reach beyond your local community to a national audience of potential donors.

Learn more and register. is the only crowdfunding platform specifically for libraries. Learn about how to put it to work creating and sharing a compelling message to donors about your library.

Create a Yearly Calendar for Trustees

From the Vermont Department of Libraries newsletter

Lara Keenan is the State Library Consultant, Governance and Management, for the Vermont Department of Libraries. In her Trustee Trainings, Lara talks about the importance of “Succession Planning” – i.e. planning for the future governance of your library, no matter who is on the Trustee Board or who is the library director.

One element of Succession Planning involves creating a yearly calendar for the Trustees that:

  • Lists what topics the Trustees usually discuss each month of the year,
  • Points out when the Trustees need to start talking about certain items (the budget, for instance) to make sure those items meet deadlines, and
  • Shows when the Trustees can fit additional topics into their meeting schedule (ex: when they will review their bylaws, policies, etc.)

Having a detailed yearly calendar will help ensure that the Trustees do not have to rely on institutional memory and can continue to move forward if a Trustee needs to resign due to health or other reasons.

Creating a yearly calendar can be as simple as creating a list of to-do items for each month of the year -and revising that list as you move through the year. Or it can involve a more focused discussion during a Trustee Retreat. Whichever way the Trustees create their yearly calendar, it’s important to store it in a place accessible to any current or future Trustee — in a Trustee filing cabinet at the library or on the Trustees’ section of the library’s website, for example.

The Wyoming State Library offers support, resources, and consulting services to Library Trustees, including the online Wyoming Public Library Board Members’ Handbook. Contact the WSL’s Library Development Office for assistance.

Meeting Rooms, Libraries, and Neutrality

Janice Grover-Roosa

By Janice Grover-Roosa
Wyoming Library Association ALA Representative
Director, Western Wyoming Community College Hay Library

ALA has recently demonstrated its commitment to uphold the foundational principles of librarianship by way of policy. As if to say, “The only way to satisfy most of you most of the time is to follow the policy every time”—ALA is adhering to the long established policy governing patrons’ rights to freely access ideas and information via library meeting-rooms. This is not to say, however, that reaffirming this stance was easy. After the ALA Council revised a policy in order to stipulate that hate groups should have equal access to library meeting rooms, many people from around the country weighed in about the collective library ‘voice’ and entertained a dialog about libraries, neutrality, and policy. Library policies are perhaps the most concrete tool available to librarians to clearly communicate the rights of library users, and it is important that Wyoming librarians stay abreast of national conversations like this one so that our library policies remain current.

ALA’s Library Bill of Rights is a set of foundational policies that guide libraries in their role as “forums for information and ideas.” In order to help librarians across the United States understand how these policies should be applied to “specific library practices” like meeting-room access, the ALA also publishes a set of policies referred to as Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights. It was a revision to the latter that caused deliberation between ALA staff, librarians, library advocates, and library patrons last June when the “hate group” language was added. The revision, later rescinded amidst the uproar, read, “If a library allows charities, non-profits, and sports organizations to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities.”

To be clear, there was no functional difference in the practical application of this revised policy, only a change in the rhetorical value of the language therein. The policy reverted back to the previous 1991 version after a resolution to vote to rescind the revision was passed by the ALA Council last August. The policy, in short, once again reads, “If meeting rooms in libraries supported by public funds are made available to the general public for non-library sponsored events, the library may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or based on the ideas that the group advocates.” This policy doesn’t detail specific groups like the revised version but rather notes, “any group.” Though the policy on meeting rooms changed and swiftly changed back, the action provided a larger platform to discuss library neutrality and the responsibility libraries have to all members of their communities.

It was no accident (was it?) that, preceding the short-lived policy revision adopted at the 2018 ALA Conference in June 2018, ALA President, Jim Neal, hosted a panel discussion, Are Libraries Neutral at the 2017 Midwinter Meeting. Taken together, the panel discussion and policy revision/reversion seem to be suggesting that there is an internal conflict regarding the collective ‘library voice’ and just who or what that voice should be protecting. To summarize the essential elements of this conflict one can refer to comments from two speakers from the panel discussion mentioned above. James LaRue, Director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director for the Freedom to Read Foundation notes (see full remarks):

I will argue that neutrality has a precise and essential meaning. Here it is: we do not deny access to library services and resources, and we do not seek to silence people on the basis of their backgrounds or beliefs. We do set limits on behavior. People who start shouting at or punching other patrons get kicked out or arrested. But our courts have consistently held that speech — whether spoken, written, filmed, sung, or worn on a T-shirt — is not the same thing as action. There has to be imminent and immediate physical danger. When we suppress speech, or shut out, or shout down people in public space — whether it be to advance the cause of conservative or progressive agendas, whether it be in the name of preservation of power or social justice — we conflate word with deed. We claim that just by listening or reading, we have been injured. So my safety requires someone else’s silence. This view is the foundation of censorship and tyranny.

Emily Drabinski, Coordinator of Library Instruction at Long Island University in Brooklyn thoughtfully countered LaRue’s points, with the following statement (see full remarks),  regarding library neutrality as it relates to library policy:

Those steeped in and rewarded by dominant ways of seeing the world don’t have to know how intensely political the ostensibly neutral position is. If the white supremacists booking your meeting space are not after you, you don’t have to know how dangerous they are. Books about reparative therapy for gay people can be simply another point of view if yours is not the body and mind those authors seek to destroy.

There is a lot to be considered regarding library policy and though the current stance of ALA is clear for the time being, it’s never too soon, or too late to ensure your library policy is up to date. For detailed information about what to consider, like state and local law, when drafting your library meeting-room policy, refer to Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures Regarding User Behavior and Library Usage published by ALA.

The opinions relating to library neutrality are cause for consideration here in Wyoming. How do we as Wyoming Librarians understand the nuances of this debate? Do you think this is something we should discuss in a session at the Wyoming Library Association conference or via webinar? Do we have valuable input to share in terms of this discussion? If we want our voice to be heard, don’t we need to know where we stand collectively? Please contact your ALA Chapter Councilor, Janice Grover-Roosa, if you’d like to discuss library neutrality further as a Wyoming library community.

National Friends of Libraries Week

Friends of Libraries groups have their very own national week of celebration! United for Libraries will coordinate the 13th annual National Friends of Libraries Week October 21-27, 2018. The celebration offers a two-fold opportunity to celebrate Friends. Use the time to creatively promote your group in the community, to raise awareness, and to promote membership. This is also an excellent opportunity for your library and Board of Trustees to recognize the Friends for their help and support of the library.
Join the celebration:

More information, ideas, and promotional materials are available at

Tips for Novice Grant Writers

From Colorado Virtual Library
By Amy Hitchner, Colorado State Library Statewide Collaborative Programming Coordinator

Is your library considering writing a grant proposal in the near future? Many libraries rely on grants to fund projects of all sizes, yet few of us have professional grant writers on staff. If you’re new to grants you probably have lots of questions, starting with the fundamentals and the overall process.

To explore some of these questions, I attended a two-day Strategic Grant Writing Workshop from the Institute for Strategic Funding Development in June 2018. The attendees came from higher education, nonprofits, and government, and all were new to grant writing. During the course we learned how to construct strategy-based grant proposals using tips that have been helpful in securing millions of dollars in funding. Here is the information that resonated with me and that I felt would be useful to a wider audience.

Know your funding sources

Grant-makers fall into one of three categories: federal, foundation, or state. Knowing how they differ can help you find a grant that aligns with the goals of your project and your organization.

Federal funding

Approximately 52 billion dollars in federal grant funding is available annually. The awards are often large and the application process is rigorous and competitive. Novice grant writers may want to start with other types of grants before moving on to federal grants. That being said, our instructor gave us some tips for improving our chances of securing a federal grant:

  • Look for grants before the funding announcements go live. You can do this by researching past grants to get a sense of what will be offered again, and when. Then you will have more time to prepare your grant application.
  • The main website for federal grants is You should also check Assistance Listings (formerly Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance or CFDA) during your preliminary planning to see comprehensive information about funding options.
  • Consider contacting the program officer for the grant that interests you; most are willing to chat with you about your proposal. Keep in mind that summer is a busy time for the grant cycle, so you will have more success contacting program officers during the winter months.

Foundation funding

Foundations offer approximately 54 billion dollars in annual grant funding. Their application guidelines vary but are usually easier and less competitive than federal grants. This is a good place to start if you are new to grant writing. When applying for a grant from a national foundation, look at where the foundation is headquartered — this is a good indicator of where they will fund.

Corporate foundations usually make larger grants with competitive, complex applications. They have websites with detailed information about their grants, which is not always the case with other types of foundations.

Community foundations usually make larger grants with competitive, complex applications. They also have websites with detailed grant application instructions. Unlike corporate foundations, their funding comes from many sources instead of just one.

Independent foundations are numerous and usually offer smaller, less competitive grants. However, it is much more difficult to find comprehensive information about these types of grants because many independent foundations don’t have websites or accept unsolicited applications.

To look for independent grant-making foundations, search the Foundation Directory Online, a fee-based database that is available at many libraries*. The Foundation Center has another resource, Visualizing Funding for Libraries, that is free and available to anyone. It provides information on potential funders and what library proposals they are funding. You can also trying searching The Grantsmanship Center.

Hot tip: Many independent foundation grant processes require a letter of proposal rather than a lengthy application. If you are applying for multiple grants, create a customizable proposal template that you can reuse.

Tips on Writing Proposals

Keep the following advice in mind when preparing and composing your proposal.

  • It pays to write a good proposal — literally! A well-written proposal is less work for the grant funding officer to evaluate, which they will appreciate. Attention to detail may be the difference between you and the funding you seek.
  • Use the funder’s evaluation criteria as a framework for building your proposal.
  • Funders want to see the impact of their dollars, so focus more on outcomes than on details.
  • Embed the “why” in every part of your application.
  • Attitude counts! Don’t act like a supplicant begging for money. Foundations are required to spend money to keep their charitable status, so make your proposal an opportunity for them.
  • Cite similarities to other grants the funders have accepted. This not only shows that your goals are aligned with theirs, but that you’ve done your homework.

I hope you’ve found some of this information useful during your grant writing process. Though I’m a novice myself I would be happy to answer your questions about my experience in the workshop.

Contact Amy Hitchner at Adapted with edits; reposted with permission.

*The Foundation Directory Online is available at these Wyoming public libraries:

  • Campbell County Public Library System Gillette,
  • Park County Public Library Cody
  • Teton County Library Jackson
  • Laramie County Library System, Cheyenne

Wyoming libraries and staff are encouraged to apply for Carol McMurry Library Endowment grants for both library projects and continuing education.