Public libraries receive funding from a variety of sources — taxes, grants, and fundraising groups akin to the Friends of the Library and/or library foundations. The research completed to date examines the demographics of funding and how it affects library service. Additionally, as tax revenues, and other avenues of government support decline, research shows that fundraising has become increasingly important to the library and its patrons.
Sei-Ching Joanna Sin (2011) researched the role of demographics, specifically median income, in funding decisions. Knowledge gained from prior study showed that libraries in less affluent service areas offered fewer services and were more likely to be shut down. In order to summarize economic characteristics of library service areas, Sin extracted data from the 2004 Public Library Survey and Census 2000, finding that “funding levels were associated with the library neighborhood’s income and urbanization levels” (p. 46). These less affluent service areas were also less likely to employ MLIS librarians and offered fewer library programs overall. Sin’s findings corroborate a similar study presented at the 2010 conference of the American Society for Information Science and Technology by Xiaoai Ren (2010), who found a direct correlation between services offered by cooperative library systems in New York State and the funding levels of their member libraries (p. 2).
Although funding affects service, Allen (2003) hypothesized that demand for service also directly affects funding. The theory of public choice states that the market forces that drive the local economy lead to public demand for service. Communities subsequently decide to tax themselves at a rate that will support desired ser...
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...ion Resources: Measuring and Mapping U.S. Public Libraries' Funding and Service Landscapes. Library & Information Science Research , 33, 41-53.
Ren, X. (2010). How Public Library Systems in New York State Make Service Decisions: Case Studies at Three Cooperative Public Library Systems. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 47, pp. 1-2. Pittsburgh: American Society for Information Science and Technology.
Allen, B. (2003). Public Opinion and the Funding of Public Libraries. Library Trends , 51 (3), 414-423.
Ashman, A. B. (2002). A Comparitive Examination of Public Library Fundraising. Public Library Quarterly , 21 (2), 47-57.
Imhoff, K. R. (2006). Creating Advocates for Public Libraries. In W. Miller, & R. M. Pennen, Current Practices in Public Libraries (pp. 155-170). Binghamton, NY, USA: The Haworth Press, Inc.
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