Community Library Committee Report

G. Finance

Members: Gloria Primm Brown (Coordinator), Gail Slevin, Jim Posner, Arne Skilbred, Valerie Justin and Priscilla Ciccariello


Our Working Group’s purpose is to begin the process of investigating all sources of financial support for the JJML building program.


The advent of the internet and online search engines were supposed to make public libraries, “the peoples’ universities” (philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie), obsolete. Instead, both library visits, and circulation of books, DVDs, and other library materials are on the rise.

The National Center for Education Statistics, which collects, publishes relevant data, and monitors trends regarding U.S. public libraries, finds that while the public is quite happy with the quality of services, there is no groundswell of support to pay for these services. Library budgets remain quite modest. Basic operating expenses are increasing while expenditures for services and capital improvements are declining or being dropped altogether.

So, too, is the case with the JJML. Area residents who responded to the CLC’s Outreach Committee’s questionnaire, requesting information about likes and dislikes were overwhelmingly positive about library services and staff members. Yet, once again, the JJML Board finds itself in the position of having to propose a public referendum for the physical expansion and improvement of the library’s facilities so that it will conform to the standards for libraries established by the State Education Department.

To raise a new building and to restore the existing library building, the JJML Board will have to secure grants from federal and state agencies, as well as attract donations from private individuals and organizations, in order to raise monies beyond what the referendum, if it passes, will provide. Based on meetings of the Finance Working Group, a meeting between us and two library Board Trustees, articles about capital fundraising culled from library literature, and discussions with other librarians who have engaged in capital campaigns, we make the following recommendations:

  • The existing historic building should become a multi-use facility offering not only reference services pertaining to local history collections and archives, but also revenue-generating opportunities to offset operating and other library expenses (see also “e. Report of the Use of the Existing Building Working Group);
  • The fundraising goal for the JJML Board should be to raise 50% to 75% of construction costs for the existing building from public sources and from individual major gifts to reduce the size of the referendum request;
  • The JJML Board should hire a professional fundraiser and a coordinator;
  • The JJML Board should form a capital campaign steering committee to be chaired by one or more well-known individuals with strong corporate and /or community ties that can spearhead the fund-raising, especially major gifts; and
  • Fundraising activities should be coordinated, where possible, with those recommended by the CLC’s Outreach and Communication Working Groups.

Discussion of Recommendations

  1. The JJML should become a multi-use facility offering not only reference services pertaining to local history collections and archives, but also revenue-generating opportunities to offset operating and other library expenses. The Working Group believes that there may be many opportunities to generate income using building space. In the Rotunda, space may be rented for various gatherings—book and author luncheons, small concerts, corporate meetings including seminars, workshops and luncheons, small receptions, a folklore or storytelling festival. On the ground floor, there could be a visitors bureau operated by the Chamber of Commerce, a small gift shop with library memorabilia, small meetings and other small functions. Allison Gray gets requests from professional photographers to do photo shoots at the library. A fee schedule for the various functions should be developed and published. For example, if $10,000 were charged for corporate functions/receptions , the library could charge $2,000-$5,000 for non-corporate functions. A business plan would be needed and perhaps a part-time facilitator could be hired, if the library becomes a popular location for various events. Costs for a facilitator and other expenses would be passed on to those using the site for their meetings, receptions, etc.
  2. The fundraising goal for the JJML Board should be to raise 50% to 75% of construction costs for the existing building from public sources and from individuals to reduce the size of the referendum request. There are a handful of federal and state initiatives that address historic preservation. Most require a local match which can be a combination of cash, donated services or donated equipment. Following are descriptions of grant initiatives identified thus far.

    Federal Initiatives

    National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): Access to Humanities Collections: Grant range is $50,000- $350,000 over two years. Provides “grants that support projects that preserve collections that, because of their intellectual content and value as cultural artifacts, are considered highly important for research, education and public programming on the humanities.”

    National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): Stabilization of Humanities Collections: Grant range is $30,000-$700,000 up to five years. Supports projects that “preserve humanities collections through support for improved housing and storage, environmental conditions, security, lighting, and fire protection.” Activities may include purchase of storage furniture and rehousing of collections and materials, installation of climate control systems, installation of fire protection and suppression systems. Renovation costs are eligible. No support for new construction, restoration of historic structures, or new roofs.

    National Park Service in partnership with NEA, NEH and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Save America’s Treasures Grants: Grant range for collections projects is $25,000-$700,000; for historic property projects $125,000 to $700,000. Supports “preservation of nationally significant intellectual and cultural artifacts and collections and of nationally significant historic properties.”

    New York State Initiatives

    New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: Historic Preservation Grants (grant range not listed) Supports projects to “ improve, protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore properties on the State or National Register for use by all segments of the population.”

    New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) This is a non-profit public benefit corporation of New York State that “manages private funds, gifts, and grants given to the state to improve or maintain public programs in conservation, recreation, historic preservation, and community improvement.” State legislators recommend many of these projects. Grant range not listed.

    Individual Major Gifts

    Congress passed one of the largest temporary tax breaks in history last year after Hurricane Katrina, to encourage donors to increase their contributions to nonprofits. (NYT 4/30/06). Significant pledges from donors could be used to meet the one to one (1:1) match required by federal and state grant programs, i.e., “gifts now rather than gifts later.” However, endowment contributions and bequests would be welcome.

  3. The library board should hire a professional campaign fundraiser and a campaign coordinator. Finance Working Group members believe it is important to have a trained professional handle grant applications, make presentations accompanied by JJML Board members to potential funders, organize fundraising events, (auctions, dinners, luncheons,) etc. Since behind-the-scenes details are important, the coordinator would handle calls, set up appointments for the fundraiser and Board trustees, assist the fundraiser in organizing events, including socials in people’s homes. The coordinator would be the point person working with vendors on merchandise tie-ins, volunteers, including the Friends of the Library, and also collaborating with Outreach and Communications. The idea here is to try to keep things from falling through the cracks, since there will be many activities taking place simultaneously and many people trying to be helpful.
  4. The JJML board should form a capital campaign steering committee to be chaired by one or more well-known individuals with strong corporate and or community ties that can spearhead the fundraising, especially major gifts. This does not need additional explanation.
  5. Fundraising activities should be coordinated, where possible, with those recommended by the CLC’s Outreach and Communication Committees. The Finance Working Group suggests that a unified, graphic theme or visual identity be created for the fundraising campaign. Logos are needed; also T-shirts, decals, buttons and other items that advertise the JJML. We need community/grassroots involvement including participation of children and youth, as well as involvement of local authors and entertainers. Communicating with, and educating, policymakers also is a goal as the campaign will benefit from their endorsements (see above for National Heritage Trust Fund). Much of this should be conducted in collaboration with Outreach and Communication.

Other Considerations

Missing from this report is any discussion of securing funds from private foundations. Large, national foundations which support public libraries, such as Carnegie Corporation of New York, do not support small, local facilities. Long Island foundations tend to be small, family operations and we are in the process of identifying those that might be amenable to making grants for specific programs of the JJML. Regarding the new building, sources of revenue might include the sale of bricks, plaques and benches that are inscribed with donors’ names, and various naming opportunities (including the building itself), reading rooms, and outside spaces. Trees, shrubs and flowers could be donated as well as landscaping services. Finally, Allison Gray has had a discussion with someone at the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) about applying to a special program that LIPA operates that gives facilities various system upgrades to make them more energy efficient. These upgrades are free to those facilities selected for the special program.

This report is not intended to be comprehensive. Time constraints prevent a more detailed investigation of funding possibilities at this time. For a fuller discussion of Sag Harbor’s fundraising potential, see “Report on Capital Fund-Raising Feasibility for the John Jermain Memorial Library” prepared by Veto Associates in September, 2003. This report was commissioned by the JJML Board. Veto Associates’ report concluded that a fund-raising goal of $1.5-$2M might be attainable, and that a public information campaign should be mounted to educate the community about the proposed bond issue. Resolution of the controversy over the use of the existing building was a top priority for constituents interviewed. An overwhelming number of them expressed interest in helping to raise money either as members of the campaign committee or through discrete requests.

1 Comment »

  1. Greetings,

    I am writing you to seek your assistance in getting a message to Mrs. Gloria Primm-Brown. In researching her name, I noticed that even on your blog and other sources of information, Mrs. Primm-Brown is protective of her contact information. She was a major supporter of the work I was doing at the Congress of National Black Churches and I was thinking about her today and felt compelled to give her an update on what I have been up to.

    Would you please share my email address with her and my number: [Removed by Webmaster]. Thanking you in advance, I am…..
    Vanella A. Crawford

    Comment by Vanella A. Crawford — March 2, 2008 @ 12:31 am | Reply

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