Businesslike Management

May 20, 2014

Karen Muller

Anyone who has worked in nonprofit management for any length of time and participated in planning meetings has heard the exhortation, “We should be managed more like a business!” The following selections offer guidance to libraries who want to heed that call.


In Recognizing Public Value, Mark H. Moore, professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, uses seven case studies to highlight the problems of recognizing and measuring social value. Publicly supported agencies and institutions gain social value not just for the good they do but because the public has agreed to be taxed to make that good happen, whether directly or indirectly through government support. Moore acknowledges that the value propositions by which a public agency might be judged can be difficult to articulate and shift over time. Nevertheless, determining a way to measure that value is still needed. The accountability measures in turn become a driver of improved performance and even greater public value.

INDEXED. Harvard University Press, 2013. 496 P. $59.95. 978-0-6740-6695-3


Bringing the complex concepts of measuring value discussed in Moore’s book to practical implementation in a library setting, Sarah Anne Murphy has collected 11 essays in The Quality Infrastructure: Measuring, Analyzing, and Improving Library Services. The case studies, mostly from academic institutions, describe efforts to track the library’s performance in meeting user needs; to develop an agile organization that can be responsive to shifting needs; and to implement quality measurement systems informed by business models but adapted to a library’s needs.

INDEXED. ALA Editions, 2014. 200 P. $60. PBK. 978-0-8389-1173-0


After spending time with the budget, a librarian might conclude that more resources are needed to achieve the value proposition confronting the library. Beyond Book Sales: The Complete Guide to Raising Real Money for Your Library, edited by Susan Dowd, begins with a discussion of why fundraising is more necessary than ever. The first portion of the book covers fundraising basics, including assessing strengths and weaknesses; understanding the value of the library to potential donors; the intersection of marketing, public relations, and fundraising; and the role of advocacy in securing the base. The second portion takes a look at some of the mechanisms: annual appeals, tribute gifts, planned giving, events, online giving, corporate support, capital campaigns, and grants. A full third of the book serves as a fundraising toolkit, with sample brochures, checklists, forms, and letters.

INDEXED. Neal-Schuman, 2014. 304 P. $75. PBK. 978-1-55570-912-9


If a grant proposal is in your action plan, consider the 5th edition of Proposal Planning and Writing. Authors Jeremy T. Miner and Lynn E. Miner, both consultants, cover the process from beginning to end, from planning proposals, finding funders, and writing and editing through understanding the funder’s decision-making process. This is a practical guide with specific examples from a range of nonprofit organizations, not just libraries. With its checklists and highlighted reminders, this book can meet the needs of both the novice and seasoned grant writer. For researching sources of grant funds, try the 9th edition of The ALA Book of Library Grant Money, edited by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell.

INDEXED. Greenwood, 2013. 268 P. $40. PBK. 978-1-4408-2969-7

INDEX. ALA Editions, 2014. 372 P. $175. PBK. 978-0-8389-1211-9


Many nonprofits rely on volunteers to accomplish their missions. Tracy D. Connors’s 2nd edition of The Volunteer Management Handbook: Leadership Strategies for Success is a comprehensive guide to managing volunteers, whether they’re student pages or board presidents serving as the public face of the organization. Detailed essays by a range of organizational specialists cover the importance of procedures and guidelines for recruitment, training, and all activities. The importance of evaluation and assessment requirements, and sadly, having risk management practices in place is covered as well. In Success with Library Volunteers, Leslie E. Holt and Glen E. Holt bring these principles to the library stage with specific reference to the ways libraries use volunteers, from being the “invisible” force behind starting a library to serving as trustees and assisting with necessary funding and outreach activities.

INDEXED. Wiley, 2011. 480 P. $70. 978-0-470-60453-3 (Also available as an ebook.)

INDEXED. Libraries Unlimited, 2013. 156 P. $45. PBK. 978-1-61069-048-5 (Also available as an ebook.)



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