Advice from a Texan Yankee in McGill’s Library Court

By Justin Soles

This piece of advice from McGill’s Trenholme Dean of Libraries, Dr. Colleen Cook, is the second of five. Thank you to Justin Soles for sharing this wonderful information! Check out Dr. Cook’s first tip and then stay tuned for more this week!

2. “Learn to Add!”

Dr. Cook notes that financial management is one of the most critical functions within a library: it’s what maintains the collection and allows services to be offered by the library, archive or information center to its users. Yet, she feels that financial management, budgeting and negotiation skills don’t seem to be taught well (if at all) to aspiring librarians today.

Dr. Cook’s admonition above (yes, that’s a direct quotation) is meant to help you avoid “… getting bamboozled…” by salespeople and vendors in the library industry. Knowing your library or information center’s revenues and expenses will help you focus on what is important and also provide some perspective when it comes to assessing the relevant importance of different projects. As Dr. Cook says, “The number of zeros…matters. A $300 expense is different from a $3,000 expense, which is altogether different from a $30,000 or $300,000 expense.”

Although Dr. Cook’s advice was focused mainly on library expenses, she also touched on fundraising as a revenue source, which is especially important in a University library. She said that although fundraising was a tiring and something thankless job for library managers, it could also be very rewarding: “…when the opportunity is right, it’s a win-win situation. The library wins and the donor gets the feeling that they’ve donated to something bigger than themselves.”

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