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portal: Libraries and the Academy 2.4 (2002) 683-684
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Successful Fundraising: Case Studies of Academic Libraries, ed. Meredith Butler. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 2001. 147 p. $45.00 (ISBN 0-918006-49-x)
Editor Meredith Butler explains that her primary goal in developing this book was "to assist library directors and those who want to become fundraisers for libraries to learn more about fundraising and find answers to their questions." (p. 4) Authors with a broad spectrum of academic library fundraising experience contributed the 12 chapters of the book. The majority are deans or directors of Association of Research Libraries (ARL) libraries in the United States although there is representation from a Canadian ARL director, a non-ARL library director, and two (non-library) fundraising professionals. Butler, herself a chapter contributor, is a widely regarded administrator who has served as Dean of the Library Faculty and Director of Libraries at the University at Albany, [End Page 683] State University of New York since 1989.
A consistent theme throughout the book is the importance of the library director's active involvement in fundraising. However talented the development staff, each of the successful fundraising efforts analyzed in this book was led by a library director fully engaged in the fundraising process. As such, these directors were able to gain the support of the university president and, in turn, key advancement personnel at the institutional level. A secondary—but no less important—theme to the newcomer is that while none of the library director authors anticipated becoming a fundraiser, each has been energized and enriched by the process.
Some of the chapters are expected. What overview of fund raising in any higher education environment would be complete without a discussion of annual giving or capital campaigns? Some chapters provide information previously not in print. James Neal's chapter on raising funds for the International Federation of Library Associations' 2001 conference, for instance, addresses an important gap in the literature—funding professional association programs and projects. Other chapters provide a particularly refreshing perspective on the fundraising process. Claudia Morner's chapter on raising funds for a major library renovation at the University of New Hampshire candidly describes the mistakes made in the process as well as strategies that moved the library to the forefront of the university's fund-raising priorities (even ahead of a new ice hockey arena).
Several chapters of the book are of particular interest because they discuss projects that are considered "tough sells" even among experienced library development officers and seasoned directors. Merrily Taylor's chapter detailing Brown University Library's National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant for Preservation is one such chapter. Although most academic libraries would find it difficult to put together the human and technical resources that Brown assembled, Taylor's account is extremely valuable for its informative description of the process and of the level of commitment needed at the very highest levels to ensure success. Janet McCue's chapter on Cornell's campaign for endowments to support technology and innovation discusses not only the challenges of raising money for technology, but also some of the difficulties in appropriately stewarding these gifts.
Although the writing is somewhat uneven and some of the chapters fall short of meeting most definitions of a good case study, the work as a whole is an important contribution to the literature of academic library fundraising in that it presents a wide variety of fundraising efforts. For both the seasoned fundraiser and the librarian newly thrust into the fund-raising arena, the book offers lots of practical, pragmatic advice and many excellent ideas. Except for a very brief introduction by the editor, there is no real attempt to bring all the chapters together and provide an analysis of the common elements of success among the case studies. While some of the case studies stand very well on their own, the book would have been stronger had a wrap-up chapter been included. The book concludes with a fairly thorough, annotated bibliography of the academic library fundraising...