Be proactive, not reactive to shortfalls in revenue

Upon releasing his new book, 40+ New Revenue Sources for Libraries and Nonprofits (ALA Editions, 2016), I had the chance to follow up with author and BRASS member, Ed Rossman about how he entered librarianship and why it’s important to be proactive in finding new revenue streams.

For more information about the book, readers can join Ed’s free webinar “How to Create New Revenue Streams for Your Library” on December 8, 12pm CST.

How did you become a librarian?

I had been working in Broadcasting for 15 years, received a Masters Degree from Ohio University in 1980 in Communications, specializing in Radio-TV. had traveled all over the country. In the last 2 years of that career I was the Business manager at WENZ-FM, the Alternative rock station in Cleveland, my hometown. When Clear Channel came in and bought several stations in Cleveland, including mine, they laid off everyone except the on-air staff. I had started the stations web site in 1995, and frankly did not want to move from Cleveland, so I contracted with Clear Channel to run the web site, sell ads, etc. It was too early in the era of the Internet to really make a living doing that. Lakewood Library had an opening in their business office which I applied for, but the Director of the library, Ken Warren, liked my web knowledge and communication skills, so he hired me for their public Technology Center. At the same time I was teaching in Kent State University’s Journalism department, a 15 week course on “The Internet and Mass Media”, and using credit hours I earned being an adjunct I achieved my second Master’s in Library and Information Science from Kent.

What made you write this book?

In 2008 when the recession hit my current library had to reduce staff and service hours. They asked staff how can we cut expenses? I said, no, we should earn more revenue, two words…Naming Rights! Looking around our industry I saw too many instances of reduced staff and hours, being reactive instead of proactive. So I assembled my broadcasting experience, merged them with the opportunities and best practices some libraries have been pursuing to survive and thrive, and with the help of ALA Editions published the book in 2016.

What are the two most critical tips you can give someone as they ponder “How do I create new revenue for my library?”

First, establish your value based on metrics you’re already collecting. We have our own Arbitron and Nielson ratings in our circulation, door count, program attendance and other statistics. These out puts are what matter to advertisers. They want their brand out there, and are concerned about audience size.

Secondly, using the prospect discovery process I detail in my book, you need to ask the prospect what you can do for them, not what can they do for you. Find out their business needs, then present them with the value you can offer for an investment. You may not be a big mass media platform, exposing them to millions of impressions; but you might offer them tens of thousands of the right type of people for their impressions. A “smaller target but a bigger bulls-eye” as I say in the book.

Please keep in mind though, the book is not all targeted towards advertising, 26 methods, or sources, are geared towards the public, or a combination of public and business involvement.

Why should people buy this book?

Based on current economic conditions private businesses will be flush with cash in the next few years, but governments will see revenues declining and taxpayers will be hammered by many new requests for money.  Not to mention there have been many hurricanes and fire storm relief efforts vying for funding and grants. My book teaches how to independently and efficiently raise revenue away from the herd.


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