Spotlight on a Timely Resource

Wouldn’t you love to have a road map that would help you through the challenges of managing a small library in these trying times? At a recent workshop on fundraising, another librarian recommended The Small Public Library Survival Guide: Thriving on Less, written by Herbert B. Landau.


While I’ve only had time to read through the book briefly, it looks like it contains a lot of valuable sections and suggestions that might help those of us running small libraries on very tight budgets.

Lots of people have written books about running libraries (we all spent lots of money on those texts in MLS school, right?) What makes this author different and more credible is his experience with small libraries and other industries that serve small libraries. Landau is currently the director of the Milanof-Schock Library in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. He has more than 30 years of experience in libraries, management, marketing and publishing. He was led to write the survival guide based of his experience of running a small library on a constantly decreasing budget, beginning in 2002. When funding was cut, he (and the library staff and trustees) found new and creative ways to run the library. They found it was possible to survive and even thrive on less, and their efforts were rewarded with local, regional and national recognition. In 2006, Landau’s library was named Best Small Library in America by the Gates Foundation and Library Journal.

A quick glance at the table of contents in Landau’s 2008 publication shows that he focuses on funding. At least five of twelve chapters have funding or money as a main topic. He addresses winning grants, buying on the cheap, new ways to earn money through events and funding programs. Since I’m up to my eyeballs in strategic planning, his chapter on translating community needs into a strategic plan is especially appealing to me. In just twelve short pages, the author explains strategic plans for the lay person and offers several examples of goals and objectives.

For those who like to take shortcuts (and don’t we all like to do that sometimes?) the author has provided 31 pages of appendices, everything from sample press releases to survey questions to a guide for evaluating old and rare books, is included in this section of the book. Landau also provides a very detailed bibliography of additional readings, and the bibliography is broken down into helpful categories such as fund raising, marketing and staffing.

Take a minute to check out the product description of this great resource on Amazon. I picked up my copy through for $42.00 and got free shipping. This is an ALA publication so I certainly want to put in a plug here that you can get the book via ALA at ALA members get an extra discount off ALA publications so look into their pricing. If you can’t afford the $42.00, try to pick up a copy via interlibrary loan. This book is just jam packed with suggestions and samples that will make a day in your office a little bit more pleasant. Check it out and let me know what you think!

We’re looking for writers for this blog space. If you’d like to write a feature article on a “hot topic” related to small libraries OR you’re doing fabulous things at your library that you’d like to share with your peers in small libraries, please let me know. You can contact me at or leave me a comment here on the blog.

Thanks for reading along!

Ann Riegle-Coursey, 2009 Coordinator for OLC Small Libraries Division


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