CULIB - Cambridge University Libraries Information Bulletin

ISSN 0307 7284    Edited by Kathryn McKee, Mary Kattuman, Charlotte Smith and Kate Arhel

Issue 64, Lent 2009: Fundraising revisited



Three years ago, we took a look at library benefactors, and offered some counsel to readers who might have aspirations be of their number. This time, we're looking at the other side of the coin: how to fund-raise for libraries. It's apposite, in view of the fundraising opportunities the University's 800th Anniversary has given us.

When CULIB last tackled the question of fundraising, back in 1998, we wrote that "Librarians need, increasingly, to turn from library work proper to the task of raising money." Eleven years on, that "increasingly" is still the word you'd use. Fundraising has become a more important activity for librarians, but it hasn't swept, like the internet, into all parts of our lives. The accounts of successful fundraising in this issue talk of it as an adventure.

Pride of place in this issue goes – of course – to Peter Fox, who, in March, steps down after fifteen years as University Librarian. His article is precisely growth of fundraising during that time. "My predecessors … would not have expected to sully themselves with anything as vulgar as asking for money," he writes, but "it was certainly written into the job description for my successor." Elsewhere in the issue, Jonathan Harrison, Special Collections Librarian at St John's College, tells us what it takes to secure the five-figure sum necessary for the appointment of a dedicated cataloguer. And Libby Tilley, who helped steer Cambridge Library Group through heroic feats of fundraising on behalf of tsunami-hit colleagues in Sri Lanka, gives us an update. How was the money spent?

The hobbies page, by Alex Saunders, is completely off the issue's topic, and so it should be. Some of the eggs it describes went into a 50th birthday cake for the Haddon Librarian, a couple of years ago, and their quality can be vouched for.

But we're glad of that article by Peter Fox, on theme, in this last issue of CULIB before his retirement. We hope the retirement is a long, fruitful and happy one. And we offer our congratulations to Peter's successor, Anne Jarvis. Anne needs no introduction, as she has been Deputy Librarian at the UL for some eight years. We look forward to telling the next chapters of her story in these pages.

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Most ancient academic libraries were built up on the basis of donations and bequests, but a concerted fundraising campaign for a library is a relatively recent phenomenon. Even a generation ago the idea that a university librarian might spend part of their time fundraising would have been inconceivable. My predecessors would certainly have considered that part of the job involved discussion with potential donors about the gift of collections, but they would not have expected to sully themselves with anything as vulgar as asking for money. Today, in many universities, it is a fundamental part of the job – it was certainly written into the job description for my successor – and I estimate that, in the last twenty or so years, I have been involved in raising more than £30 million for the library from sources external to the universities I have worked for.

Fundraising is an activity that can be both extremely exhilarating and extremely frustrating: exhilarating when you land that big donation that you have worked so hard for; frustrating when a prospect that you have been cultivating for years just finds excuse after excuse not to commit themselves. Persistence and patience are among the most important qualities needed to be a successful fundraiser. The challenges of raising funds for libraries and archives are also much greater than for museums or galleries, which have a more immediate public profile.

Fundraising is not something one can do alone – you need a good team behind you, both professional development officers to guide the process and lay the groundwork, and curators or other specialists who can really get the potential donor enthused.

There are essentially three groups of potential sources of funds external to the university which libraries might approach: grant-giving institutions, trusts and foundations, and individuals. Each of these requires a different approach.

Bodies like the JISC1 or, in the past, RSLP2 have very specific requirements and almost always set out in advance what outcomes they want from any programme for which they offer grants. For example, the current JISC website shows that they are offering grants for the development of digital repositories, and projects 'that fit with the vision, outcomes and principles of the JISC e-Learning programme'. Proposals that do not meet these criteria will simply be a waste of time. JISC are also very keen on 'marriage broking'. This means that if they receive proposals that they think are complementary from two or more institutions, they could well offer a joint grant, provided the institutions can get together and come up with a collaborative project.

Some institutions seem to bid regularly for JISC grants and have staff whose employment depends on the continuation of such grants. My approach has always been more selective. We bid for grants when they fit the Library's own priorities, but I cannot see the point of seeking funding to carry out a project which is not a priority, simply in order to bring in money, particularly as it is rare for the grant to cover all the costs of the project. Costs that are not covered might include the overheads now imposed by the University, the time of existing staff who are needed to manage the project, or something as obvious as the fact that you receive only a percentage of what you applied for and have to match the rest from your own resources.

In some ways, trusts and foundations are similar to bodies like the JISC. They usually have areas of activity that they are or are not willing to fund. Some institutions, for example, will not fund acquisitions or buildings; others will only fund acquisitions or buildings. So it is essential to read carefully their grant-giving policy before you risk wasting your time preparing an application that will not be considered. It is also useful to talk to colleagues who have been successful (or not …) in their applications to a particular body, as they can often provide advice on an approach that might be more likely to succeed. In many instances there is an administrator or case officer who will often be willing to provide advice at a level of detail that may not be in the published particulars (is an application at one time of year more likely to succeed than one at another? do the trustees like a brief application of a few pages or do they expect masses of detail? is it possible to discuss the potential proposal informally in advance? etc., etc.).

If you can match your needs with those of a trust or foundation, then you have a reasonable chance of success. Some indicate at the outset that you will be expected to find a certain percentage of matching funding, and this has to be built into the project costing. Some others have the infuriating habit of not stating this, agreeing that your proposal is a good one but then saying that they will only fund it to the tune of, say, 50% or 75% of what you asked for. You then have to decide whether it is possible to scale it back or whether you can find the matching funding. It is very hard simply to walk away from an offer at this stage, however far it falls short of your needs.

Trusts and foundations will also expect you to deliver on time and on budget. They will require a timeline, with deliverables and work packages, and it is not uncommon for the final part of the grant (or, in some cases the whole grant) to be issued only when the project has been successfully concluded on time. If it is clear that a project is slipping, it is essential to come clean and explain why this is happening. If presented with a reasonable case, a trust will usually react sympathetically, but if they discover when the project should be completed that it is only half way through, you are in for a sticky time and you can forget any future applications to that body! As far as the major trusts and foundations are concerned, it is essential to liaise with the University Development Office before contacting the trust, as CUDO will usually have links with them and will be able to advise on how best to structure a proposal and also ensure that two competing proposals from Cambridge are not submitted at the same time.

Individual donors are a completely different kettle of fish. Whereas trusts and foundations exist to make grants, you first have to persuade an individual not just to part with their cash but also that your library is the place they should give it to, rather than cancer research, the National Trust, or the cats' home. Particularly in the UK, this can be a sensitive issue, as many people in this country find it embarrassing to talk about money, and, although things are changing rapidly, universities, never mind libraries, are often not high on their list as potential recipients of their largesse. In the USA this is different. An American is quite likely to tell you at your first meeting how much he or she is worth, and after a few meetings will wonder when you are going to ask for money. They are also more used to giving to universities and their libraries. The trick is to know when to do this and how to present your case.

It is an axiom of fundraising that 'people give to people'. Developing and cultivating a relationship is essential, and it may take several years before a potential donor is ready to give. It is also essential to promote your strengths and achievements, and not to cry poor mouth. People want to give to a successful organisation and help it to be more successful; they don't want to be asked to prop up an ailing one. So, however poverty stricken you feel your library is, what the prospective donor wants to hear is that you have exciting plans for new developments, and their money will enable you to realise those plans.

Finally, it is worth remembering that there are sources of funds within the University as well as outside. The principal one of value to libraries is the Isaac Newton Trust, which will consider applications to provide funding of up to a third of the cost of a project, provided the remaining two-thirds can be found from sources external to Cambridge. The University Library has benefitted considerably from the Trust's generosity over the last few years.

Fundraising is now an essential part of the job of many librarians. Though, as I have indicated, it can at times be frustrating, it can also be an immensely valuable way of raising additional resources to carry out projects that would otherwise not be possible from the normal day-to-day budget of the library. If you can prepare a strongly argued case and find a suitable prospect, then, even in these hard times, you certainly have a good chance of success. So I urge you to follow Sir Thomas Bodley's advice and do what you can to 'stir up other men's benevolence'3.

Peter Fox
University Library

1.Joint Information Systems Committee of the higher education funding councils

2.Research Support Libraries Programme

3.Sir Thomas Bodley, Letter offering to re-found the university library in Oxford, 1598

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In 2008 St John's College Library received grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), and from the College itself, to employ a new member of staff on a three-year contract to catalogue and open access to the papers of the brilliant and controversial astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle (1915–2001).

The Library at St John's houses almost one hundred collections of working and personal papers of past alumni. The cataloguing of this material has traditionally been undertaken by core library staff, as other duties have allowed, a system which has worked well for smaller collections but which is impractical for archives of fifty or a hundred boxes or more. With over 150 boxes, the Hoyle collection is our largest, and it was clear that it would never get catalogued without a dedicated full-time Hoyle cataloguer. Such a person would not come cheap. While there was a willingness in College to contribute towards the cost of such a project, it became evident that it could only be realised with matching external funding.

Before seriously investigating funders, I put together a couple of pages giving an overview of the contents and significance of the Hoyle papers, outlining shortcomings in their existing arrangement and listing, setting out the aims of our proposed project, the resources required, and the anticipated beneficial outcomes. This proved a very useful starting point, and it helped later on, when we reached the stage of filling in application forms. The next step was to take advice from appropriate bodies. The Hoyle collection being a scientific archive, we went straight to the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists (NCUACS) and it was they who recommended that we consider the HLF and the AIP. Having sought further advice from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, we decided to try for an HLF grant and made contact with their Cambridge office.

After investigating the various HLF grants on offer, we plumped for the Your Heritage scheme, which awards grants of £3–50,000. While making smaller awards than the Heritage Grants scheme, Your Heritage offered a number of advantages: less paperwork, the opportunity to apply at any time, a single round application process, and a decision within ten weeks of applying. We were also told that the HLF takes a very hands-off approach with Your Heritage funded projects and – crucially – that 90% of applicants are successful!

In February 2007 we submitted a very simple pre-application form – in fact we submitted it nine times, due to a temporary problem with the HLF website, but luckily this did not put them off! In March we met our designated Cambridge HLF representative who was very helpful and supportive. She suggested ways in which we might improve the project and gave us the full application form. It sounds odd but filling in this form was actually quite exciting, since it was this process that helped shape our project and broadened our ambitions as to what we might achieve. The demands on HLF-funded projects to develop new audiences and innovative learning tools led us to devise the post of a Hoyle Project Associate – a cataloguer yes, but also an event organiser and author of web-based resources. The project that emerged was a far more interesting, challenging and rewarding undertaking than the initial cataloguing task we had first envisaged.

Funders like collaboration, and we duly liaised with the Whipple Museum and the Institute of Astronomy (IoA), who were particularly helpful in suggesting ways to enhance the access and outreach aspects of our project and in promising future collaboration. We secured some excellent letters of support from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), from the IoA, from the headmaster of a local school who hoped to bring children to visit the Hoyle collection, and from well known scientists testifying to Hoyle's importance – Sir Patrick Moore and Lord Rees no less. As well as producing a timetable detailing our annual objectives for the project and preparing a budget, we decided to go that extra mile and write a library education policy to show that we were serious about our educational role. I am not talking about anything fancy – just some realistic policy statements and targets – but I think it helped, and we now have a useful document to guide future action. The overall pitch of our application was that this was a flagship project for a Cambridge college trying to open access to its collections.

We submitted our application to the HLF at the end of May 2007, they came back with a few questions in June, and by July we had received the hoped-for letter of congratulation telling us that we had been awarded £48,000. The whole process had taken just five months. They say that money attracts money, and, buoyed by our HLF success, we applied to the American Institute of Physics. After a very painless and simple application process, the Friends of the Center for the History of Physics awarded us $10,000. I think that St John's College was so pleased to see the Library's external funding that they agreed to meet the remaining costs of our Hoyle project, and our dream turned to reality. Our Hoyle Project Associate, Katie Birkwood, started work in March 2008 and is doing a sterling job. For more details please see the project website:

This is a success story, but we have met with disappointment in other bids to other funders. I think there are various reasons why our Hoyle fundraising had a happy ending: Hoyle is a household name and an enormously interesting and significant scientist; the Librarian and I were both able to devote time to the applications process, thereby sharing the burden and doubling the available enthusiasm and creative energy; and last but by no means least, we were prepared to take a step out of the traditional college library box and to make a commitment – modest, realistic and exciting – to engaging with new audiences and developing new services.

Jonathan Harris
St. John's College Library

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Cambridge Library Group (CLG) had a successful project, in 2005–2006, to raise funds after the tragedy of the Boxing Day Tsunami. We had a focus for our fund-raising, provided by people who knew the situation on the ground – and, in particular, information from Premila Gamage of the Sri Lanka Library Association (SLLA) who was able to link us with a project. Our focus was the rehabilitation of a school library situated in one of the areas worst affected by the tsunami.

The motivation, the community feel for the project, the excitement of seeing funds come in, were all parts of the process. Over £4,000 was raised in the end. The next stage of the fund-raising process is not so visible here in the UK – that is, the spending of the money.

Sudhrama School Megalle Galle, 2005In our original project, the SLLA told us of the following things that were particularly needed by the school:

  • Refurbishing the library (minor repairs, colour wash, provide furniture, etc)
  • Developing the collection, with books, periodicals & AV materials
  • Providing a computer with necessary accessories
  • Training the librarian in managing the rebuilt library
  • Automating the library functions and providing training in using IT

Sudhrama School, 2005, damaged book cupboardsIn September 2007, one year after the funds had been sent out to Sri Lanka by a CILIP member, we received a report from the SLLA detailing the work that had been done and including pictures of the repaired library, some of the books that had been chosen with the children, and the opening ceremony. This report was presented to the CLG AGM held that September. It was very pleasing and encouraging to think that our money had contributed towards the refurbishment of the library and assisted in the school in making suitable collection development decisions.

What has happened since then?

The SLLA has sent a final report about the project. In this report they have been able to show that they have moved beyond the basic refurbishment and initial purchases of books to achieve some more of the goals that they had initially given us.

In the report they state that:
"The two volunteer teachers who are in charge of the library, have successfully completed the Part I of Library and Information Science Diploma Course which is conducted by the Sri Lanka Library Association and now following Part 2. They will be paid by an incentive for another year with the project funds."

Furthermore, various other activities have been conducted at the School Library:

  • 3 art workshops
  • 1 literacy workshop for teachers and parents
  • art exhibition and concert

With this last event, the main activities of the project will be concluded, but the SLLA have indicated that they will be monitoring the activities of the School.

The Cambridge Library Group should be proud of their achievements in raising funds for the School project in Sri Lanka. Of course it never came close to being enough. Many people's lives were completely changed by the tsunami, and the children at the school have to contend with huge problems in its wake. But we can know that we have made some difference, to some children, for some part of their lives.

Libby Tilley
English Faculty Library

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eggIn my case it was definitely the chickens, three cross-breed bantams bred and brought around by our neighbour to inhabit a henhouse proudly made by my son from reclaimed timber. It had taken me several years of over-the-fence observation before I was confident enough to become a poultry owner. In retrospect I wish I had done so earlier, as hens have never proved to be more troublesome than children, cats or the various small furry rodents we had previously given a home.

Named T-Bone, Egg and Substitute (note the quirky sense of humour of my vegan son) they quickly settled in and started laying, each hen's eggshell a slightly different colour, from pale cream to brown. Each hen was readily identifiable, having slightly differing shades of brown and black feathers and Egg having feathers just above her feet. From early spring to the onset of autumn moult, we collected two or three eggs most days. When moulting, the birds' energy is taken up with growing new feathers, and when the hours of daylight are shorter than those of darkness, egg production also greatly decreases in old-fashioned breeds. One can try to compensate with extra hours of lighting in the hen-house in the winter, but ultimately it will only shorten the lifespan of the birds.

I love bantam eggs, as proportionately the amount of yolk seems greater than that in larger hens' eggs and Victoria sponge cakes turn out gloriously eggy yellow. No, there isn't any artificial colouring in their food, though I believe it used to be allowed. The only disadvantage is that I have never been able to find egg cups small enough for bantam eggs. When following recipes using standard eggs, I just add one or two extra. I am convinced that very fresh home-produced eggs have the best flavour of all.

As I have a large garden and grow fruit and vegetables, I soon adapted to moving the hens on to a new patch of grass between the fruit trees every couple of weeks and giving them spare greens. They were excellent for clearing ground of annual weeds and insects, and giving fertile chicken manure in exchange. I found they loved chickweed and grass, but that they loved worms most of all. When I am digging near them, they will wait expectantly and jump to catch any worm dropped through the wire netting. Whilst this is entertaining for humans, I find I do not wish to dwell on the worm content of my eggs. The birds have constant access to everyday food in the form of organic layers pellets, grit, oyster shell and water in self-feed hoppers, and get a teatime handful of mixed corn most days. They are sociable, and also clearly recognise that an approaching human may indicate additional food.

At sunset, domestic hens have a natural homing instinct to roost in their house, which is useful if they have decided to go walkabout out of the run during the day. They also become more docile in the evening, so that is the best time to handle them and check for any health problems. Our three have never had any sign of illness, though we were concerned at the bird flu scares and covered the run with a polythene roof following Government advice. Unfortunately, they are now six years old and way past their most productive egg-laying age. I have read the chapters on when to restock and how to kill a chicken, but so far cannot bring myself to convert them into cat food or chicken soup, for maybe they will start laying again by the end of February. So they are currently reprieved and my neighbour and I have not yet gone further than talking about rescuing some battery hens.

The backyard poultry book by Andrew Singer (Prism Press, revised ed. 1982) is highly recommended reading and can be found second-hand.

Alex Saunders
Haddon Library

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University of Cambridge 800 years logo

The Haddon Library of Archaeology and Anthropology is running a poetry competition to celebrate the University's 800th anniversary. The competition is for poems inspired by the numbers 800, 1209 and/or 2009.

For more details of the competition, see mp.pdf or ring Aidan Baker on 01223 333506.

To enter online, go to ntro.cgi

The competition is supported by the University's 2009 Fund.

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As this issue goes to press, Peter Fox is preparing to retire from the post of University Librarian that he has held since 1994. We offer him our very best wishes and welcome his successor Anne Jarvis who has been Deputy Librarian since 2000. Anne will take over from Peter at the beginning of April. Sue Mehrer, Head of Reader Services, has been appointed Acting Deputy Librarian for a year while an assessment is made of the effects of the implementation of the Teaching and Learning Report on the Library's needs at senior management level.

Emma Coonan has been appointed to the new post of Research Skills and Development Librarian in Reader Services. Emma worked in English Cataloguing before leaving to do her Ph.D. at York University and on her return worked for a while in Official Publications. Rhiannon Cook has been promoted to a part-time post of Senior Library Assistant in Official Publications and Catrin Dean has been appointed eJournals Support Assistant.

As the three-year project funded by the Arcadia Trust gets underway, two more Fellows have been appointed from Lent Term to explore the role of academic libraries in the electronic age. Lizz Edwards-Waller moves from the Entrance Hall to work on "Information Skills Provision – Mapping the Information Skills of Cambridge Undergraduate Students and Induction/Training Provision across the University". Keren Mills has been seconded from the Open University to work on the development of mobile library services. Michelle Heydon has also been appointed as Administrator of the Arcadia Project following the departure of Glenna Awbrey.

This year's Munby Fellow is Dr Deirdre Serjeantson. Her project is 'Petrarch and the early-modern English reader: a case-study in the printing and circulation of the Babylon Sonnets'.

Last term's new appointments also include Frank Bowles as Superintendent of the Manuscripts Reading Room. Research Assistant Zoë Rees has moved from the University Archives to the Royal Greenwich Observatory Archives, while Sophie Defrance has moved from European Cataloguing to Rare Books to cover Emily Dourish's maternity leave. Amy Theobald and Lawrence Brooks have been appointed as book-fetchers in Rare Books.

Jessica Salmon and Katharine Dicks have joined European Collections and Cataloguing as German assistants, while Laure Combs, a French Librarian, has been welcomed as an intern for three months from February to May. Alan Kucia has been appointed Senior Cataloguer in the Tower Project and Michael Jones as Senior Cataloguer in the Harmonia Mundi Project in the Music Department. Susi Woodhouse has also been welcomed as a Volunteer in Music.

Julie Elbourne has left the Entrance Hall and Helen Grieve has been appointed. Nicola Kingston and Sarah Fletcher have taken up posts as bookfetchers in the West Room.

Yanning Rao, Library Assistant in the Map Department, left to begin a degree in Earth Sciences at Durham University in October. Michael Taylor, formerly a temporary staff member in Music and Official Publications, has taken up a permanent post of Library Assistant in the Map Department.

Piers Tyrrell said a final farewell to European Collections and Cataloguing at the end of September. Piers joined the UL staff in 1948, continuing for twenty-seven years as Honorary Keeper of Slavonic Books after his first "retirement".

We offer our congratulations and best wishes to all the new mothers at the UL. Joanne Koehler of European Collections announced the birth of her daughter Evelyn Teresa on 16 September. Agnieszka Drabek of English Collections gave birth to son Tomasz on 11 November. And Emily Dourish of Rare Books was taken by surprise by the arrival at home of her daughter Sarah Kirstin Clothier on 1 December, two weeks early.

Charlotte Smith moves from the position of Senior Cataloguer, in the English collections at the UL, to take over as Assistant Librarian at Modern and Medieval Languages. She succeeds Catherine Minter, who has gone to take up the post of Librarian for Germanic Studies, French and Italian, Comparative Literature, Classical Studies and Linguistics at the Herman B. Wells Library of Indiana University.

At the Judge, following a move by Sayara Thompson to another part of the Institute, Sarah Burton has moved up to be one of the Senior Library Assistants.

Helen Snelling has left the Haddon Library in Archaeology to take over where CULIB editor Kate Arhel left off, as Assistant Librarian at the Pendlebury Music Library. Another CULIB editor exercises the editorial perk, if that's what it is, of saying that Helen is already sorely missed. Anna Thompson has moved from the Pendlebury to Classics for six months before returning to the United States to pursue a library career in a big way.

At Earth Sciences, Clare Pryke has moved up to the post of Deputy Librarian, and will, by the time you read this, have organised the famous Easter Egg hunt for the students for the last day of term ("I've only ever helped set it up before so I am looking forward to seeing it in action," she told CULIB). The other part-time job Clare was filling, at African Studies, is being taken up by Valérie Malard.

The Cambridge Theological Federation has a new Library Assistant in Maria-Alisa Jaramillo-Garridio, who boasts many useful languages. Maria-Alisa's predecessor, Katie Birkwood, who for the past year or so has been Hoyle Project Associate at St John's College, has achieved a distinction in her MA in Library and Information Studies from University College London. Katie also received the MacAlister medal, awarded to the LIS student with the highest total mark. Congratulations! Katie is giving a paper based on her dissertation at the Library & Information History Group conference at CILIP HQ on 27 March.

Janet Chow has been appointed Academic Services Librarian at St John's College, having previously worked as Librarian at Fulbourn Hospital.

It has been all change at Girton. In March 2008 Library Assistant, Betty Brown, retired after 21 years in post. In the same month, another library assistant, Gemma Gill gave birth to baby Nathan, and later decided to opt for full-time motherhood. Verity Yeates was welcomed, initially to cover for Gemma's maternity leave, but Girton are delighted that she will now stay permanently. Shelley Tilston also joined them at the end of September as the morning Library Assistant.

Pembroke College has a new part-time library assistant. Sarah Anderson previously worked at Magdalene, and is currently studying for her MA at University College London.

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