New Funding

The development of funding sources from within the institution is important if preservation is to succeed. Ways to use the institution to develop preservation funds from institutional supporters are discussed here as well as possible grant seeking strategies. Click on the links below to learn more about funding.

Academic libraries must support the research and teaching needs of the institution, and a good preservation program can provide services that help meet these needs, thus encouraging the institution to allocate additional funding for preservation. Possible preservation services include acting as an institutional resource for disaster responses (for example, responding to emergencies in non-library buildings) putting on institution-wide exhibitions, and staff training. Perhaps more than any other library unit, the preservation department has opportunities to serve and impress faculty and the public. If it succeeds, funds will follow. Preservation includes conservation that can be placed at the service of museums, historical societies, and private collections, and because most of conservation is based on traditional crafts, there is often an opportunity to conduct book binding classes and workshops for non-library staff.

External Sources

Securing funding from external sources has two major advantages: it brings funding to the preservation program that is usually distinct from other institutional funding allocations, and it highlights the preservation program as an institutional feature worthy of support. For example, if the preservation unit is successful in securing grant support from an international foundation, institutional administrators may see this as an outside endorsement of a program that has not been valued by the institution but that now must be recognized. There are two main pathways for external support—securing private funding and project support from official funding agencies.

Private funding

Private giving is always the result of a careful awareness-raising campaign. Preservation professionals are in the best position to raise awareness by delivering a compelling message that usually goes like this: The library/archive has begun this mighty task of saving scarce and unique resources, and has triumphed over difficult circumstances to establish the beginnings of a viable program that will, in time, yield wonderful results. Though the path will be long and hard, with additional support, the sacred mission of the preservation department will be fulfilled.

A groundswell of support for the work of a library or archive can often be raised through publications and personal contact at conferences. Personal contact stimulates grant funding and even private giving from prominent donors. For example, the preservation professional can submit articles for possible publication in International Preservation News and other journals devoted to Southeast Asian studies; this will attract the attention of scholars and donors while educating them about the challenges of saving collections. Whenever possible, preservation professionals should try to tell their story in the popular media.

Most fund-raisers believe that funding objectives should be broken down into distinct components. Consider, for example, appeals to upgrade a conservation operation. The funding needed would fall into two main areas: the capital cost of renovation, equipment, and materials, and the ongoing costs of salaries and supplies. A substantial private donation might establish a paper conservation facility at the library, and another might upgrade existing microfilm and scanning operations. The entire reformatting operation could be named in honor of a specific donor or group of donors. Similarly, other capital equipment costs, for instance, to introduce digital imaging for reformatting, could be made the subject of a specific appeal and named after whatever donor or donors stepped up to bat.

The creation of a library/archive "preservation fund" often attracts the endorsement of prominent compatriots and wealthy individuals from foreign countries. Another fruitful funding avenue is to establish a cooperative venture such as a regional preservation center. It is worth going to the effort to set up such programs, since a substantial endowment (money donated and invested to produce continuous income) can guarantee that, in case of vicissitudes such as government cutbacks, there will be steady support for conservation.

In general, in a "naming" opportunity, an individual donor gives the funds in his/her own name or the name of a person to be memorialized. But endowments often consist of a number of smaller endowments and are open ended, that is, the fund-raising never actually stops. In this case, the library/archive may have an acknowledgment program that mentions donors in research publications or on documentation tags placed in preserved library/archive materials.

Private foundations

Project funding through private foundations can be the most effective and reliable source of external funding. A number of private foundations can be approached with proposals for shared funding for specific projects. In this instance, the "back door" approach, using personal connections, is most effective. The preservation professional does substantial research to discover individuals who serve on the trustee boards of foundations. The American Foundations Directory, available in paper and as an on-line database, is helpful for this purpose. The Foundations Directory provides information on the interests and giving patterns of foundations and lists their officers and trustees, along with short biographies. Gathering similar directories from various countries is an important first step. Searching the web is also a useful approach, as most private foundations have web sites describing their area of interest with information on eligibility and application procedures. Once the preservation professional establishes this personal connection to a foundation, a one- to two-page letter describing the nature of the project can be sent out to assess a foundation's interest. See:

Less successful is the "front door" approach. The preservation professional or library director writes a short letter to the foundation with a general summary of the proposed project and an elastic estimate of cost. The letter simply asks the foundation whether it would have any interest whatsoever in supporting the program's objectives, and offers to provide more details if invited to do so.

Projects funded by foundations tend to be finite (unless the foundation has a matching endowment feature similar to the Henry Luce and the Mellon foundations), with clearly identified goals, specific costs, and an anticipated end. One such project might be fully automating the card catalogue through a Web-based catalogue product. In this case, the proposal letter would cite specific improvements in bibliographic access that would be obtained as a result of the conversion project.

Another approach that can be taken with larger foundations is producing a "whole picture" plan, broken into phases with fixed time lines. The foundation is able to see clearly how its contribution would advance the overall plan. Information about the work of the library in preserving materials should be disseminated to the foundation regularly. This goal can be achieved in part through a web site featuring the library/archive, with regular progress reports and announcements posted.