Interview with Mary Jo Ketchum
  August 30, 2000

Throughout your tenure as a public library trustee and as a member of NYSALB, have you seen a shift in trustees' attitudes towards fundraising for libraries?

I have seen the pressure increase on trustees to take measures to secure funding support to keep their libraries open, or to improve them. It is just a reflection of the broader shift to outside support for what the public thought were public institutions. Today, even public school systems have fund raising programs to supplement tax-based funding!

As for trustee attitudes, I do not think that we can fairly assess the attitudes of trustees in that regard. After all, so many trustees were instrumental in the foundation of their libraries. Perhaps it can be said that in the interim, from the founding times till recently complacency may have set in for many trustees.

In the past several years, the heightened pressure to take a role in fund raising has changed that outlook, at least from complacency to unease, or less security. That is good, because it shakes up the boards. Some members flee, in the face of the challenge that they probably see as beyond them. That is too bad, because they may be the ones who have the passion for the library. That's where a professional fund raising person becomes valuable. Such a person can point out the value of a long-time trustee in persuading people to support a library and insure the library's continuation, which puts the giving into the perspective of partnering for a library's survival.


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