Global economic conditions contribute significantly to the decline in the sources and amount of funds that public libraries receive. According to Collins (2012), economic recession compels public libraries to reduce their budgets and operate in deficits. In the 21st century, public libraries are increasingly becoming important institutions because of the increasing number of scholars, who are frequent users of the libraries (Sin & Kim, 2008). Thus, the increasing demands for library services amidst economic recessions make the provision of library services unsustainable. Thus, ever-increasing needs of the library users and diminishing sources of funds affect financial sustainability of Clayton Public Library System.
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As one of the public libraries in the United States, Clayton County Public Library System serves about 1.2 million users, who are in Clayton County, the state of Georgia, through its six branches in various districts such as Lovejoy, Forest Park, Headquarters, Jonesboro, Riverdale, and Morrow. From the library’s website, it is clear that the system depends on funding from the local government, grants, and Friends of the Library (FOL) fund raisers (Clayton County Public Library System, 2014). Since the current sources of funds from government, grants, and fundraisings are not in tandem with increasing demands for library services, the public libraries are unable to expand their services or provide quality and sustainable services. The decline in the sources of funds explains why libraries are providing poor and limited services to the library users (Walker, 2007). In this view, financial sustainability of funds is an issue that public libraries need to resolve so that they can provide their services in a sustainable manner.
Financial sustainability of the public libraries is a current issue that affects the provision of quality services to the library users (Collins, 2012). Mostad-Jensen (2009) holds that intermittent economic recession is a common economic phenomenon in modern society that is threatening the financial sustainability of libraries. To cope with the challenge of financial sustainability, most libraries have reduced the number and quality of services that they offer with the view of adapting to stringent budgets, which diminish with time (Walker, 2007). Such interventions are not viable because they make libraries to lose their inherent functions of providing quality services to library users. Therefore, the proposal asserts that diversification of funds is a feasible intervention that does not only enhance financial sustainability, but also promote the quality and the number of services that Clayton Public Library System offers.
Approach of the Study
This proposed study is quantitative study that examines the relationship between diverse sources of funds and financial sustainability of Clayton Public Library System. In the proposed study, sources of funds represent the independent variable, while the financial sustainability of funds represents dependent variable. Sources of funds such as central government, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and fundraising comprise the independent variable. The sources of funds will be graded according to the degree of sustainability using a five-item scale, 1 to 5, which represents very weak sustainability, weak sustainability, average sustainability, strong sustainability very strong sustainability respectively. Collins (2012) argues that economic recessions, reduced or stagnant budgets, and increasing demands for library services reduce the financial sustainability of public libraries.
Through quantitative approach, researchers can make substantial inferences from the collected data and analyzed findings. Qualitative analysis of data enables quantitative researchers to establish the relationships between variables and single out significant predictors (Kura, 2012; Morrow & Fassinger, 2013). Hence, the quantitative approach will establish the nature of relationships that exist between financial sustainability and sources of funds. In this view, the quantitative approach is appropriate in establishing the relationships between sources of funds (independent variable) and financial sustainability (dependent variable) of Clayton Public Library System.
Clayton County Public Library System (2014). Quick Facts: 2010-2011 Fiscal Year Statistics. Web.
Collins, T. (2012). The current budget environment and its impact on libraries,
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publishers and vendors. Journal of Library Administration, 52(1), 18-35.
Kura, S. (2012). Qualitative and quantitative approaches to the study of poverty: Taming the tensions and appreciating the complementarities. The Qualitative Report, 17(34), 1-19.
Morrow, S., & Fassinger, R. (2013). Toward best practices in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method research: A social justice perspective. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 5(2), 69-83.
Mostad-Jensen, A. (2009). The impact of economic recessions on libraries: A past, present, and future. Library Ideas, 14(1), 53-57.
Sin, J., & Kim, S. (2008). Use and non-use of public libraries in the information age: A logistic regression analysis of household characteristics and library services variables. Library & Information Science Research, 30(3), 207-215.
Walker, S. (2007). Low volume, funding, staffing, and technical problems are key reasons for discontinuation of chat reference services. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 2(3), 97-100.