Diversifying Funds and County Libraries

Introduction to the Study

The amount of funding that libraries receive, affects the quality of services they can offer. In the United States of America, federal, state, and local i.e., municipal and government funding are the main sources of money for public libraries (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010; Research Information Network, 2010). However, to be precise, state and local government funding are the main sources of money for these institutions (American Library Association, 2014); federal funding only complements these sources of revenue (American Library Association, 2014; Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010). Legislatively, the Library Services and Technology Act lobbies for funds from Washington for these public institutions. Some public libraries receive extra financial support from concerned citizens, who may give private donations or support the activities of a special-purpose district by voting for and paying specifically levied taxes (American Library Association, 2014). Such efforts highlight a wider source of funding for public libraries (i.e., private philanthropy), which has often played an instrumental role in expanding public library facilities and renovating them (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010). These institutions have also taken recourse to such funding sources to improve their services. Another critical source of public funding is the endowment fund (Sullivan, 2007). Some innovative library administrators have gone a step further and sought additional funding through private-public partnerships with private companies and civic groups.

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In the last few years, the United States government has been criticized for being tightfisted with respect to public libraries (American Library Association, 2014). This is part of a wider set of concerns regarding the funding of public libraries at the expense of other economic projects (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010). Based on these pressures, Lumos Research (2011) and Lemons and Thatchenkery (2012) noted that it is now common to see public libraries collaborating with profit-making organizations to supplement their income. This is why public-private partnerships are becoming a common feature of the funding model of public libraries (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2013). Overall, these factors show the immense pressures that public libraries are experiencing in today’s uncertain economic times.

Statement of the Problem

Since the 19th century, United States public libraries have played a crucial role in the social and economic development of communities (Rubin, 2010, p. 7). For instance, they have supported literacy of the homeless, acted as social gathering places, allowed for personal and professional development and acted as centers for cultural engagement (American Library Association, 2013a). As Obadare (2014) and the Research Information Network (2010) observed, these institutions came under threat from social and economic changes on two fronts: First, the growing prominence of the digital era diluted the relevance of libraries in today’s society by increasing access to information and eliminating the monopoly that most libraries used to enjoy in this regard (Basri, Yusof, & Zin, 2012; Düren, 2013). Second, libraries are under threat from poor economic conditions, which have limited state and federal funding to such institutions (Bowman, 2011; Coffman, 2013). The American Library Association (2013b) stated that, today, American libraries are experiencing the greatest threat to their financial stability in their history.

During the recent global recession of 2007/2008, public libraries in 44 states around the United States reported a 30% decline in state funding (Lumos Research, 2011). Europe reported a similar trend because reduced funding caused the closure of several public libraries in Western Europe (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2013). Furthermore, data gathered in the United Kingdom from senior library managers, in 2009, showed that most libraries were experiencing sustained periods of financial cuts (Research Information Network, 2010). Based on the scale of financial cuts experienced by most of these institutions, the network also showed that many library administrators were reviewing the scale of services offered to their patrons (Research Information Network, 2010). Indeed, to cope with the financial challenges, some public libraries stopped operating, others downsized their operations, and a few reduced their working hours (Bakar & Putri, 2013; Klentzin, 2010). Such adjustments have curtailed the effectiveness of these public institutions in fulfilling their social and educational goals, thereby reducing their relevance in modern society even more (Egunjobi & Awoyemi, 2012).

Policymakers have contributed to the decline of public libraries by reducing public funds that have traditionally financed such institutions (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010). Instead, legislators and county administrators believe that there are other important institutions, such as schools, security agencies, and health care facilities, that need public financing besides libraries (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010). Consequently, many of these institutions have shut down their operations, imposed levies for accessing their services, or ventured into other types of business (Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010). For example, the oldest public library, Darby Free Library, located in Delaware County, is facing closure because of severe budget cuts (Chang, 2014). Similarly, the Friern Barnet Community Library, in London, closed down after Barnet County was unable to finance its operations (Webb, 2014).

Based on the unprecedented scale of financial challenges that constrain the operations of modern libraries, different researchers and organizations have undertaken comprehensive research studies to assess the scope of the problem (Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011; Goodman, 2008; Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2010; Webb, 2014). For example, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (2010) and the Research Information Network (2010) have gathered information regarding the scale and scope of financial troubles that plague the American library sector. Other institutions that have participated in similar research studies include the Society of College, National, and University Libraries (DeAlmeida, 1997; Goodman, 2008). Goodman (2008) added that some small focus groups produced vital information regarding the scope and magnitude of the financial troubles that characterized the library sector. In line with the same goal, many library directors acknowledged the financial problems they experienced when managing the operations of public libraries (American Library Association, 2014; Mapulanga, 2013). Consequently, they have introduced new services to support their organizational goals. However, limited financial resources constrained their strategies. Furthermore, public libraries operate as legal non-profit institutions. Adopting a financial diversification strategy means that these institutions would make profits. This approach contradicts the operational model of such institutions because they are not supposed to make profits (Bakar & Putri, 2013; Klentzin, 2010). This challenge highlights the need to understand the legal ramifications of adopting a financial diversification strategy. The operational dynamics of public libraries, which have steered it on the path of non-profit business, would also conflict with a financial diversification strategy because they would not support profit-making ventures (Bakar & Putri, 2013; Klentzin, 2010). This challenge forms the second basis of analysis for this study.

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Financial diversification is a strategy advanced by many economic experts to manage economic challenges. While many research studies have been devoted to this topic in the context of private enterprises (Agosto, 2008; Brands & Elam, 2013), the scholarly literature is silent on financial diversification in the public library sector. The few authors who have addressed the financial straits in the public sector suggested that public libraries should be seeking alternative sources of funding (Goodman, 2008). For example, Mapulanga (2013) advocated that Malawian public libraries should try to find extra money through fundraising efforts. In addition, the author encouraged these institutions to focus on and start income-generating activities to supplement their income. In the American context, some researchers have suggested different strategies of financial diversification. Cuillier and Stoffle (2011), for example, suggested, in their study on Arizona libraries, that these institutions should consider charging library fees and creating award ceremonies as alternative sources of funding.

Many researchers have explored how financial diversification could work in various enterprises; however, they mostly considered profit-making enterprises (Bakar & Putri, 2013; Brands & Elam, 2013; Klentzin, 2010). Some common recommendations emerged from such studies; one of them was, for example, to encourage companies to venture into new businesses – engage in horizontal and vertical diversification (Agosto, 2008; Brands & Elam, 2013). Many privately owned companies have embraced such recommendations successfully (Bakar & Putri, 2013; Brands & Elam, 2013; Klentzin, 2010). These strategies have, indeed, helped them to overcome some financial challenges and cope with uncertain economic conditions. While success stories abound about private enterprises who took some hurdles and overcame their financial limitations, information regarding what public institutions might do, likewise, is wholly inadequate (Agosto, 2008).

Based on the current literature, it appears that researchers have, indeed, suggested various alternatives for improving the financial positions of libraries in their vicinity. However, their suggestions are broad (Brands & Elam, 2013; Kostagiolas, Papadaki, Kanlis, & Papavlasopoulos, 2013). Based on this background, few of them have explored the implications of these strategies on the current operational structure of public libraries, which limits their mandate to providing free social services. What did emerge, however, from these writings was the growing awareness that dependence on state and federal funding to finance the libraries’ operations was not sustainable (Brands & Elam, 2013; Kostagiolas et al., 2013). It appears that various institutions will have to seek different sources of funding to suit their particular circumstances and financial needs. This dawning understanding informs my choice of the case study design, which takes into account the contextual nature of the problem and, thus, of the search for financial options available to Clayton County Library System, Georgia.

It is unknown how financial diversification could improve the economic fortunes of public libraries. According to Basri, Yusof, and Zin, (2012), researchers who did focus on the financial troubles affecting public libraries have explored only how to improve library efficiency, but not its financial sustainability. Others have explained the reasons for budget deficits in the library sector (Bedford & Gracy, 2012). Because private organizations have different operational needs and requirements, one cannot apply these findings indiscriminately both to public and private enterprises. Insufficient information exists about public libraries and how they could improve their financial lot through diversification. In this regard, there is a need for public libraries, such as Clayton County Library System, to explore alternative financial investment strategies that could improve the situation.

Purpose of Study

Based on the many financial challenges that modern libraries are currently experiencing, the Research Information Network (2010) observed that library directors are willing to use this economic challenge to do things differently. However, few of them have come up with concrete proposals that would effectively transform library management services so as to produce large-scale savings and improve the financial position of these organizations (Cummings & Worley, 2009). These failures have made library administrators eager to look for innovative ways of solving the financial problems that are plaguing their organizations (Wang, Chu, & Chen, 2013). However, there is only scant information regarding how nonprofit organizations might achieve financial sustainability without adopting financial diversification strategies that have been predominantly associated with the corporate sector (Humphery-Jenner, 2013).

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The purpose of this study is to provide a thorough understanding of the unique structural, legal, and operational dynamics associated with adopting a financial diversification strategy in Clayton County Library System and explore what would support or, conversely, hinder this strategy. Based on this line of reasoning, this study strives to paint a clear picture of the unique administrative, legal, and operational dynamics associated with public libraries by investigating the financial problems of one public library in Georgia – Clayton County Library System (CCLS). Indeed, CCLS is among many other public libraries in 44 states of the United States that are suffering from financial challenges. This view aligns with the assertions of Collins (2012), who maintained that 44 of the 50 states of the union have state-funded public libraries that continually experience financial challenges. The Clayton County Library System (2014), Georgia, serves more than 1 million users annually. The organization also supports local businesses, which, in turn, support the library by providing business information such as directories and databases, literacy programs, and similar supportive goods and services. Some of the organization’s financial troubles stem from a wider problem facing public libraries in the United States, namely, relying on public funds to sustain their operations (American Library Association, 2014). This observation supports the assertions of Coffman (2013) who wrote that approximately 90% of all public library funds come from the government. Library fees and direct taxes account for other sources of revenue for such institutions (American Library Association, 2014). Relying almost exclusively on public funds to run their operations, public libraries such as the Clayton County Library System are vulnerable to economic uncertainties.

Financial constraints and the digitization of information, which formerly was nearly the exclusive domain of libraries, have reduced the bargaining power of the Clayton County Library System as it seeks more financial allocations from state and federal authorities (Egunjobi & Awoyemi, 2012). Furthermore, with a diminished relevance in today’s society, the institution is receiving less public support, compared to years past (Bedford & Gracy, 2012; Cooperrider & Whitney, 2009). Collectively, these challenges threaten the organization’s existence. It is to these severe challenges that this study will address financial diversification concerns with the hope of finding answers to enhance the financial sustainability of the Clayton County Library System. In doing so, ways and strategies will be sought that can benefit other public libraries in Georgia (and the greater United States) that share a common predicament in these uncertain economic times. Comprehensively, Clayton County Library System is a prime example of a non-corporate entity that needs these financial diversification strategies. Furthermore, today’s digital growth has created more pressure on public libraries to maintain their relevance in a fast-paced world (Basri et al., 2012). What this means for Clayton County Library System is that it needs to find answers to its financial problems, or it could face closure, and what Clayton County Library System experiences seem to be felt across the library sector in general. Because there are no models or frameworks that could predict how a financial diversification strategy might promote the financial stability of these important social institutions (Kostagiolas et al., 2013; Christoffersen & Langlois, 2013), it is both crucial and timely that a qualitative case study be focused on Clayton County Library System.

Research Questions

Main Research Question

How can Clayton County Library System diversify its funding sources to become financially sustainable?

Subquestions

  • What are the structural implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS?
  • What are the legal considerations for the adoption of a financial diversification strategy at Clayton County Library System?
  • What are the operational implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS?

Theoretical Framework

The modern portfolio theory is the main theoretical framework for this study. This theory seeks innovative ways for maximizing returns within a given variety of investments owned by an individual or an organization (Cross, 2011; Okojie, 2010). The main preposition of the modern portfolio theory is risk minimization through portfolio diversification. This theory has shaped how investors perceive risk and returns. Okojie (2010) also says it has affected how investors understand portfolio management. In the same way, it seeks creative ways of minimizing risks by evaluating current assets. Early adopters of the theory emerged in the early 1950s and again in the 1970s (Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011). They mainly presented the theory as a mathematical model of finance. The theory is based on the work of Harry Markowitz, who developed the model to help investors make prudent decisions regarding their investments (Tu & Zhou, 2010). Soon after its development, people termed the theory the Markowitz theory (Omisore, Yusuf, & Christopher, 2012). However, its name was later changed to the modern portfolio theory. Omisore, Yusuf, and Christopher (2012) considered it among the first theories that helped investors to maximize their portfolio returns by allowing them to choose the proportions of different investment assets. Unger (2014) explained that the modern portfolio theory divides financial risks into two parts. The first part is the unsystematic asset-specific risk, which investors could mitigate through diversification (Tu & Zhou, 2010). The second part is the covariance, or market risk, which always remains with the investor. These risks underscore the importance of investing through portfolios, as opposed to holding on to individual assets, or sources of funds (Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011). When developing the modern portfolio theory, Unger (2014) outlined four assumptions. First, he maintained, most investors are preoccupied with the mean and standard deviation of their assets, when making investment decisions. He further assumed that most investors are risk averse as they prefer to make investment decisions that present fewer risks, for equal returns.

Chapter 2, will elaborate in greater detail on the theoretical propositions and major hypotheses of the modern portfolio theory, but suffice it to say for now that many pundits have questioned some of its major assumptions (Omisore et al., 2012). Although these criticisms must be taken into account, Han, Yang, and Zhou (2013) argued that the theory presents an improvement over the traditional models of wealth development. Furthermore, it marked an important advancement in the mathematical modeling of investment decisions. This fact stems from the theory’s mathematical formula for making investment choices (Han et al., 2013). The purpose of developing this formula was to highlight the fact that investment portfolios have fewer risks associated with them than an individual asset would carry. It is possible to see the intuitive value of this contribution because different assets have varying values (Han et al., 2013). Thus, the modern portfolio theory advocates for diversification to lower the risk of investment, regardless of the nature of correlation that most assets share with returns (Omisore et al., 2012).

Researchers have used the modern portfolio theory to encourage investors to pursue asset diversification as a strategy for insulating their investments against market risks and organization-specific risks. In this regard, Omisore et al. (2012) wrote, “The theory is a sophisticated investment decision approach that aids an investor to classify, estimate, and control both the kind and the amount of expected risk and return” (p. 21). Based on these dynamics, an essential component of the modern portfolio theory is the central relationship between risk and return (Elton, Gruber,& Blake, 2011). The assumption that all investors need to receive risk compensation also emerges as a critical tenet of the theoretical framework. The modern portfolio theory shifted the emphasis of investment strategies from focusing on the characteristics of specific investments to focusing on the statistical relationships that underscores every investment decision (Edlinger, Merli,& Parent, 2013). Here, researchers used the modern portfolio theory as a framework for guiding investors on how to allocate capital across an asset group (Edlinger et al., 2013). Investors measure investments based on their expected value of the random portfolio return (Elton et al., 2011). The risk quantification process also occurs by analyzing the variance of the portfolio return, mean variance framework. The portfolio allocation process should consider the conflicting goals of investments and the quest for investors to minimize their risks and maximize their returns (Bhattacharya & Galpin, 2011).

Overall, Markowitz was among the first scholars to observe the diversification effect by encouraging investors to diversify their financial options across different assets. At this point, Bhattacharya and Galpin (2011) explained that, when applying the modern portfolio theory, it is important to understand the returns, variances, and correlations that characterize the mean variance approach that investors use to choose the right portfolios for their investments. Again, this process helps investors to maximize their returns, while minimizing their risks when making investment decisions (Bhattacharya & Galpin, 2011). Since the modern portfolio theory hails from a financial background, it provided the framework for comprehending the financial alternatives of Clayton County Library System.

Nature of the Study

This research study uses a qualitative approach to address the research questions. This approach allows for the exploration of the research phenomenon in-depth (Thatchenkery, 2005; Maxwell, 2013). The qualitative research approach was appropriate for the study because of its exploratory nature. Since library managers rarely use financial diversification in public library financial management, we did not know what to expect. The qualitative research design is mostly applicable in such situations (when we do not know what to expect from a study). The research design also helped to delve deeper into the nuances of the research questions (legal, operational, and structural issues that relate to the adoption of a financial diversification strategy). The research questions accommodate these nuances and therefore, align with the qualitative research approach. Furthermore, it accommodates the case study design, which gives room to explore the financial practices of Clayton County Library System through dual data collection techniques – interviews, and document reviews. Marketing researchers have mainly used the qualitative research approach because of its open-ended nature (Qualitative Research Consultants Association, 2015). For example, they have used it to develop hypotheses for further testing, understand people’s feelings, values and perceptions, generate new project ideas, and undertake similar actions in marketing development (Qualitative Research Consultants Association, 2015). These competencies of the qualitative research design show the inappropriateness of the quantitative research approach because it has a conclusive nature. Stated differently, the quantitative research approach could not accommodate the exploratory nature of this study because the information used in this paper lays the groundwork for further research into the field of financial diversification in the public library sector.

The data collection process includes in-depth interviews of 20 respondents. Seven respondents would be current and former members of CCLS’s top management team. They will be existing and former library directors of CCLS. Three members would be grant writers, while six branch managers and four assistant directors will take part in the study. The second part of the data collection process would be the document review stage, which will garner information from books, journals and credible websites. The purpose of this data collection method is to fill knowledge gaps that would emerge from analyzing primary data obtained from the interviews. This way, there would be a coherent research design for answering the research questions. Once the data is collected, content analysis method will be used as the main data analysis technique for the document review process. This method will allow categorization of the data into relevant themes for answering the research questions (Weick, 1982). Likewise, it will help in categorizing and summarizing the results for the document review. In essence, themes from the interviews will be used to organize materials gleaned in the document reviews. This method will be applicable at two levels: The first level will provide a descriptive account of the information obtained; the second level, or the latent level of analysis, will interpret the findings gained from implied meanings in the responses, and from the inferences made.

Definition of Terms

Following are the definitions of terms as used in this study:

  • Digital age: The digital age is the current era, characterized by the transition from an industrialized to a computer-reliant global economy. Technically, this period started in the 1970swith the introduction of personal computers. Technological advancements have helped to redefine this period by making it easy for computer users to transfer information. Besides the heavy reliance on personal computers, the increased use of the Internet as a global platform for information and knowledge sharing also characterizes the digital age. Other names used to capture the concept of the digital age are synonyms such as computer age, information age, and new media age (Pavlik, 2013).
  • Financial diversification: Financial diversification is an economic strategy used to manage risks. Financial experts have used diversification to manage risk portfolios by reducing the risk of one security by spreading it across different investments (International Monetary Fund, 2013). Experts may do so by investing in different types of assets or by mixing different types of investments (International Monetary Fund, 2013). In the context of this study, financial diversification refers to the process of seeking new ways of generating revenue to supplement the operational expenses of a public library. This strategy could help such organizations to terminate or, at least, reduce their reliance on public funding.
  • Financial mitigation: Financial mitigation is a process whereby the severity of an adverse effect is lessened (International Monetary Fund, 2013). In this study, the term is used to describe the reduction of financial exposure of public libraries.
  • Financial sustainability: Financial sustainability is the economic state of a country, person, company, or institution that is resistant to economic instabilities; thus, financially sustainable entities are able to fulfill their basic functions easily (International Monetary Fund, 2013). This study uses the concept of sustainability to denote a state in which the Clayton County Library is immune to economic shocks that cause an unstable financial cash flow. Therefore, by adopting a financial diversification strategy, this researcher predicts, that the organization’s financial intermediation process would have a smooth functionality. This way, people could have renewed confidence in how the public library system manages its operations.
  • Generalizability: Generalizability means that the findings of a study can be applied to a wider population beyond the sample studied. Here, it means that the views detailed in the study may also reflect the views of a wider population that shares similar characteristics with the sample(Patton, 2002). In the context of this study, the term also refers to the ability to generalize the financial strategies of the Clayton County Library System to other public libraries that share similar characteristics.
  • Public-Private partnership: Public-Private partnership refers to collaborative efforts between government enterprises and private enterprises to complete a project (International Monetary Fund, 2013). In this study, the concept refers to a potential relationship that would emerge if public entities (i.e., public libraries) collaborated with other stakeholders in the library sector to promote financial stability in the sector.
  • Replication logic: Replication logic in qualitative research means that two or more cases support the same theory either by predicting similar results or producing contradictory results, but for predictable reasons. This process improves the generalizability of the findings obtained (Maxwell, 2013).

Assumptions and Limitations

This section will present the assumptions and limitations in the study.

Limitations

This study will focus on Clayton County, Georgia, with a special emphasis on understanding how Clayton County Library System could improve its financial sustainability by adopting a financial diversification strategy. Within this scope of analysis, the study will promote a deeper understanding of public policies and administrative practices that underscore the financial problems of the library system and, by extension, of public libraries that share similar characteristics. Thus, participation will be limited to individuals who understand the financial practices of public libraries and are presently working or have worked in CCLS. Furthermore, a special bias exists for collecting the views of professionals who occupy positions within the administrative structure of CCLS because they are familiar with the financial practices of the library system.

One limitation of the study may be the limited number of respondents that will be available for interviews, considering their busy schedules. When developing the interview protocol, the busy schedules of top library administrators and their potential unavailability during the time span scheduled for data collection will be considered. Furthermore, based on the time frame of this study, the possibility that some of the library personnel i.e., the potential respondents may have retired, move to other positions in other library systems, or leave the service for other reasons will be put into consideration. Despite these limitations, strong efforts will be made to reach an adequate number of uniquely qualified respondents.

Methodological limitations of this study will also be considered. For example, the case study design could limit generalizability (Maxwell, 2013). Similarly, because a case study often involves only one researcher, as does a study conducted for the purpose of gaining an academic degree, the possibility of researcher bias will be considered. Other methodological weaknesses of the study could arise during content analysis, a method that will be outlined in the Data Analysis section of Chapter 3. The availability of research materials could affect its credibility. In this regard, observed trends may not necessarily reflect the true picture regarding the adoption of a financial diversification strategy at Clayton County Library System.

To address these limitations, the findings of this study will be subjected to an independent review committee. The committee will identify areas of commission or omission that may require correction. Similarly, should the availability or unavailability of research data limit the application of the content analysis method, efforts will be made to ensure that sufficient objective materials are available when applying the theoretical framework.

Threats to quality could also be considered as limitations of the study. Such threats could affect the theoretical validity, construct validity, or internal validity of the research. Patton (2002) noted that threats to theoretical validity may arise from unnecessary duplication of research information and theoretical isolation. He added that threats to construct validity emerges mainly from respondents’ providing nonfactual information to either challenge or please the interviewer. To guard against such problems, established theories and concepts developed from earlier findings to support the research outcomes and answer to the research questions posed in the study will be used. Efforts to relate, but not duplicate, earlier findings to those of the current study will be made. In addition, to ensure validity and guard against bias, biased responses will not be included in the final report.

Assumptions

First, the study will assume that library administrators understand the financial situations of their library. In this regard, it will also be assumed that the administrators desire to change this situation by making libraries more financially sustainable. This assumption implies that the library administrators are desirous of understanding the nature of the financial woes besetting public libraries and of course, possible strategies that might mitigate existing conditions.

The second assumption in this study is that respondents will be knowledgeable about the financial practices of public libraries because they are holding administrative positions in the hierarchical structure of the organizations. The research design will address this concern and outline a framework for ensuring that the findings are valid.

Last, an assumption will be made that the qualitative research design would the best methodological approach for understanding the operations of public libraries and the possibility of realizing financial sustainability by adopting a financial diversification strategy. In this sense, it will be assumed that a qualitative research design could gather the most useful views and profit from the experience of key interviewees. While the methods section will indicate that the results of the study will be rendered as descriptive findings, nevertheless it will be assumed that the inclusion of expert opinions with the qualitative approach of the case study would provide a more focused understanding of the phenomenon under study.

Scope and Delimitations

Scope

The scope of the study pertains to the Clayton County Library System, Georgia. The feasibility of adopting a financial diversification strategy in a public library will be instigated first, by gaining a thorough understanding of the financial practices of this case in point and, then, by examining the possibility of improving its financial standing through the adoption of an economic diversification strategy. Clayton County Library System has approximately 30 supervisory staff and caters to the needs of everyone in the community (Clayton County Library System, 2014). Based on this dynamic, the study may lack randomness, but the research design will, nevertheless, allow for the generalizability of the results to other public libraries that share similar characteristics. It will do so by investigating the financial practices of other public libraries, or cases, as explained earlier with the concept of replication logic.

Delimitations

Strong (2014) defined delimitations of a study as unforeseen factors that characterize a research process. Delimitations could also be self-imposed conditions on the study that limit it (Strong, 2014). This study will have only two delimitations. The first delimitation will be imposed by the limited access to some respondents. The research design is aimed at garnering the views of library administrators who have very busy schedules. The limited time available for conducting this study may also affect the quality of information obtained from key informants. Library policies regarding employee conduct may impose other delimitations, as the responses given by employees of the library are subject to the limitations set by the organizational code of conduct. Thus, some employees may not be able to give responses that would be highly germane to the study and contravene their policy frameworks. Given the fact that the information regarding the financial practices of CCLS will be sought, some employees may feel that discussing their financial practices could cause security issues for their organization. To mitigate this concern, the researcher will seek managerial consent before interviewing employees. This way, the employees will be aware that management approves their participation in the study. Furthermore, the employees will be informed that the information obtained would mainly be for academic purposes. Their confidentiality in the process will also be guaranteed. A choice to broaden the analysis beyond CCLS is not considered because the research design only focuses on CCLS.

Significance of the Study

Academic Contributions

Public libraries provide important support services to social and economic institutions. However, poor economic conditions and increased public access to knowledge and information through the Internet have threatened their relevance and even their continued existence (Mapulanga, 2012). This study will add information to the debate surrounding the adoption of a financial diversification strategy in public libraries, by exploring alternative strategies that such institutions might adopt to achieve financial stability. This goal aligns with past reports that showed people’s appreciation for the value of public libraries in the social and economic development of many communities (American Library Association, 2014; Mapulanga, 2013). For instance, the American Library Association (2014) quoted a recent public agenda survey that showed more than 80% of the population stating that public libraries should still provide free public services to the community. It further stated that such a requirement should be a top priority of such institutions. This survey showed that most people believed that the services offered by public libraries were more important than other services offered, for example by the police or public parks (American Library Association, 2014). These statistics reveal that many individuals supported increased funding of public libraries. This outcome further reinforced the findings of the Pew Research Center (cited in Glen, 2013), which showed that more than 91% of Americans, 16 years and older, believed that the closure of public libraries affected the communities where the patrons hailed from. In fact, 63% of these respondents believed that such closures would have a “major” impact on communities (Glen, 2013). The proposed study would advance scientific knowledge regarding how public libraries would sustain their usefulness by showing how they could improve their financial positions through financial diversification. To do that, this study will highlight the structural, operational, and legal issues to consider when adopting the financial diversification strategy. By sorting out these issues, public libraries would be in a better place to continue providing their social services. Furthermore, future researchers would know what to consider when recommending new financial strategies for improving the financial stability of public libraries.

Policy Contributions

Exploring strategies for improving the financial sustainability of public libraries could promote policy development by changing management cultures (Albertini, 2013). Such changes would redefine the administrative policies of public institutions and improve public-private partnerships in the community (Mapulanga, 2012). The latter development could come from recommendations that explore different strategies for promoting the financial sustainability of public organizations through private-public partnerships (Reid, 2010).

Because this case study focuses on evaluating the possibility of adopting a financial diversification strategy of one institution, Clayton County Library System in Georgia, its findings and subsequent recommendations may introduce policy changes in the region by promoting financial literacy and proper financial management. Such developments may increase financial prudence in public and private spheres (Coffman, 2013). Furthermore, they may create increased awareness about financial challenges experienced by public libraries in the region. This measure would encourage policy makers to create local solutions for managing such problems (Bailey, 2011). Providing a proper legislative framework for financial innovation would be one way of doing so. Experts may further apply possible strategies that may emerge from such developments in the wider Georgia state.

Implications for Positive Social Change

The findings of this study would contribute immensely to the lack of adequate knowledge regarding the adoption of a financial diversification strategy in public libraries. By promoting financial sustainability at Clayton County Library System, this study will also contribute to the educational and cultural development of Clayton County because the public library plays an important role in providing educational and cultural resources to the residents (Massis, 2011). Therefore, if Clayton County Library System could meet its financial obligations, it could improve its services to the community and offer more educational resources to the residents. For example, it could increase its working hours and improve access to library services by adding new materials to its collections (Cottrell, 2011, 2012). Furthermore, by improving its financial situation, the library could employ more residents of Clayton County and support several families with the salaries earned at the organization (Ghosh, 2011).

Last, Clayton County Library System would support many local businesses that complement its operations. For instance, local publishers may supply reading materials to the library. Similarly, other vendors who supply educational materials to the library system may support the organization’s activities in different ways. In this way, a number of people who run businesses in Clayton County could depend on the library for earning a living. Indeed, due to these uncertain economic times and reduced public funding, such businesses also run the risk of closure (McMullen, 2011). Thus, Clayton County Library System could play a greater supportive role by promoting community development within its reach. Improving its financial position, would allow Clayton County Library System to reciprocally assist in improving local businesses. As a committee of library and information community members will review the findings of the study, in addition to further subjecting them to an independent review by the university’s doctoral research supervisors, the findings will have high reliability and validity. The results of the study could, therefore, be useful to library administrators and policymakers who influence funding decisions of such organizations and prove beneficial for the community of Clayton County, Georgia, and beyond.

Summary

The purpose of this research study is to provide a thorough understanding of the unique structural, legal, and operational dynamics associated with adopting a financial diversification strategy in Clayton County Library System and explore what would support or, conversely, hinder this strategy. The research questions align with this purpose because they explore the structural implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS, investigate the legal considerations for the adoption of a financial diversification strategy at Clayton County Library System and find out the operational implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS. These research questions would provide the missing knowledge of financial diversification in the public library sector. Evidence would come from a qualitative assessment of the views of library staff and past research studies that have investigated the same issue. These processes align with the modern portfolio theory, which is the main theoretical framework because it explains how organizations could achieve financial stability through financial diversification. Using this framework, the findings of this study would promote positive social change by improving the financial stability of libraries and helping them to continue providing their social responsibilities of information access. Similarly, they would expound the boundaries of the theory by explaining the legal, operational, and structural issues surrounding financial diversification in the public library sector. The next chapter is a literature review of past studies that have investigated the research phenomenon. It will review pertinent literature to broaden the understanding of the current financial status of public libraries and the difficulties they are facing in these uncertain economic times. A description of the literature search strategy and key search words used will be examined. In addition, the chapter presents the theoretical foundations of alternative funding through financial diversification strategies. Chapter 3 will present the research methods, including the case study approach and the rationale for selecting this method. In addition, the chapter explains complementing the case study by adding a sample of knowledgeable interviewees holding administrative positions in the hierarchy of library administration as well as some experienced grant writers from the library sector. The results of the study will be presented in a future chapter. Conclusions will be drawn based on the findings, and recommendations will be offered for practical application and future research on the topic.

Literature Review

Introduction

Financial diversification is a strategy used by many organizations to improve their financial positions. However, few studies explain how this strategy could work in the public library sector (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Coad & Guenther, 2014; Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011). Based on this background, scholarly literature on financial diversification and its potential application in the public-library sector will be reviewed. This chapter will document three main issues:(a) the background of U.S. public library funding, (b) current financial challenges for U.S. public libraries, and (c) alternative strategies for public library funding. This information would help to fill the research gap concerning lack of sufficient information about the application of a financial diversification strategy in public libraries, especially in CCLS. The information contained in this chapter would help to meet the research purpose, which is to explore how CCLS can diversify its funding sources to become financially sustainable. The theoretical framework of the modern portfolio theory will undergird the exploration of how to bring financial diversification strategies to the public library sector. The chapter begins with an explanation of the literature search strategy, followed by a presentation of the theoretical basis for the analysis and the inherent definitions and organizational structures of public libraries in America. These analytical areas provide the context for evaluating the three aforementioned areas of the topic under study.

Literature Search Strategy

Literature search strategy was used to retrieve information mainly from peer-reviewed journals that have investigated financing issues in the American library sector. Supplementary research materials came from institutional websites and classic scholarly papers that investigated the same issue. Key words used in the search included: library funding, Clayton County Library System, library closures, modern portfolio theory, library trends, alternative strategies for funding, and public library management. I conducted the search with different search engines including Political Science Complete, Business Source Complete, SAGE Premier, Google Scholar, Emerald Insight database, Google books, and other Walden University research databases. For the initial research, key words were typed and words such as public libraries in America were added. This search strategy produced over 187 articles. To find the most relevant articles, research papers that were more than five years old and those that were not peer-reviewed were excluded. This process left over 114 articles that appear in the reference section of this document. When faced with challenges regarding the unavailability of research information, findings from other parts of the world were used and compared to those of the United States. However, deliberate efforts were made to use developed countries that have similar social, political, and economic characteristics as the Unites States of America.

Theoretical Foundation

The theoretical foundation of this study will be based chiefly on the modern portfolio theory. The theory emerged from the concept of diversification and from the need to improve financial stability. Corporate diversification is a common strategy in the corporate, or for-profit, sector. Essentially, the concept hailed from the common adage: “Never put all your eggs in one basket” (Cross, 2011, p. 140). This theory emerged from the seminal works of Harry Markowitz titled, “Portfolio Selection.” Albeit introduced more than 60 years ago, this work has evolved through the works of other researchers such as James Tobin and Bill Sharpe, who have won Nobel prizes because of their contribution to the understanding of portfolio diversification (Francis & Kim, 2013). Today, such works have influenced different people in different sectors, including portfolio management, individual investment decision-making and economics (Francis & Kim, 2013). Metaphorically, proponents of the theory hold that betting on one stock as the only financial strategy amounts to lack of diversification (Okojie, 2010). Diversification involves betting on different stocks. In the context of this study, investing in one stock would amount to depending on one funding source to finance library operations. Therefore, changing this status, or diversifying, means seeking alternative sources of funding. Alqudsi-Ghabra and Al-Muomen (2012) noted that one common benefit of doing so is to reduce the risk associated with relying on a single source of funding. The same principle that applies to the financial markets also applies here. For example, Cuillier and Stoffle (2011) wrote that it is common for one stock to lose its value by more than 50%; however, it is uncommon for a portfolio that has different stocks to lose its value by a similar margin. The modern portfolio theory, or the theoretical framework of this study, builds its concepts on this premise as it strives to maximize returns and reduce portfolio risk.

One important contribution of the modern portfolio theory in the financial field is its exhortation to investors to think about and compare the riskiness of a portfolio to that of a single security (Quantitative Solutions, 2012). Its contributions have mainly applied to the financial markets by encouraging investors to invest in different stocks, as opposed to one stock. Based on this analysis, the modern portfolio theory highlights two types of risk: systematic risk and unsystematic risk (Quantitative Solutions, 2012). Systematic risks are not industry-specific. Furthermore, avoiding systematic risks is difficult to achieve; therefore, they are also called unavoidable risks (Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011). For example, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was a systematic risk. Unsystematic risks are industry-specific and are, therefore, diversifiable (Quantitative Solutions, 2012). The modern portfolio theory bases its principles on the unsystematic risk category because managers can diversify risks in this category. Figure 1 shows how the modern portfolio theory encourages the diversification of unsystematic risks.

The modern portfolio theory diversifies away unsystematic risk
Figure 1. The modern portfolio theory diversifies away unsystematic risk. 

When using the stock market analogy, it is crucial to point out that the more stocks one person holds, the lower the investment risk (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012). For an investor or an institution looking to invest, it is important to point out that one should select a broad-based portfolio. In applying this principle in the current study, it means that the modern portfolio theory encourages library administrators to seek a broad funding portfolio. Comprehensively applied, the modern portfolio theory strives to minimize risk within a given portfolio. In the context of this study, minimizing risks means seeking alternative funding sources for the Clayton County Library System and refraining from depending on state and municipal funding as the sole funding source. Financial analysts perceive diversification mainly in two ways: horizontal diversification and vertical diversification (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011). Horizontal diversification entails increasing the portfolio with the same type of investments; vertical diversification involves increasing the portfolio with different types of investments (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012). In this chapter, both types of diversification will be reviewed in the literature.

The Link between Modern Portfolio Theory and the Diversification Concept

Revenue diversification is a relatively recent practice outside the financial sector (Deborah & Jones, 2009). According to the portfolio theory, revenue diversification has far-reaching implications for a not-for-profit firm because it will affect its revenue stability (Deborah & Jones, 2009). This effect has been a critical policy concern in not-for-profit firms and institutions (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012). One reason for adopting diversification is the benefits associated with it. Diversification is an old concept in corporate and institutional research (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Paliwal, 2013). Product diversification, geographic diversification, and portfolio diversification are the main concept divisions reflected in the literature (Deborah & Jones, 2009). Revenue diversification in particular bases its ideas on the modern portfolio theory. Here, the modern portfolio theory shows that different types of revenue sources have different variations. Diversification often reduces this variability. To explain this concept in detail, Kang (2013) explained that diversification encourages increased investment among different firms, thereby reducing revenue and profit volatility. In the same breadth of analysis, Paliwal (2013) stated that most firms could lower their financial risks by mixing different security holdings. Doing so, often reduces the financial risk of one security and allows the overall growth of the broad portfolio over time. The same explanation applies to the revenue structure of nonprofit organizations. Stated differently, a balance of different revenue sources could increase the financial stability of the institution, thereby reducing its overall financial risk in the long-term (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Deborah & Jones, 2009). Developing multiple and imperfectly coordinated sources of revenue is the best way of realizing the described advantages (Paliwal, 2013). Here, it is important to point out that the diversification theory strives to eliminate unique and unsystematic risks.

Nonetheless, even diversified portfolios are to some extent subject to market risks that affect other businesses as well (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Deborah & Jones, 2009). This fact closely aligns with the views of proponents of the dependency theory. Based on this theory, its advocates maintain that there is no need for diversification when resources are abundant because external dependency is not a problem (Tkachenko, 2012). However, during times of limited resources, organizations have to come up with innovative strategies to safeguard their dependency. This is precisely the situation that many public libraries around the world are currently experiencing. The resource dependency theory holds that organizations frequently put themselves into precarious situations by relying on only one institution or organization to supply vital resources or funds (Hood River County Libraries, 2010). This argument is borne out by the precarious financial position of American public libraries as the contractual relationships they share with other organizations encourage a dependent relationship in which the library relies on state resources for funding (Tkachenko, 2012). This relationship also affects the policies libraries are adopting. Using several measures to explore the impact of diversification on nonprofit institutions, Arawomo, Oyelade, and Tella (2014) found that organizations that have diversified their sources of revenue generally enjoy a better financial position than those that depend on only one source of income.

Limits of the Diversification Theory

Although many of the studies reviewed showed the advantages of diversification, some scholars observed that diversification can also have negative consequences (Arawomo et al., 2014). For example, while firms may improve their financial positions by seeking external funders, they also have to contend with the possibility of meeting the demands of each financier. In an independent study of 172 nonprofit organizations, Tkachenko (2012) observed that financial uncertainties could exist even when diversification entails seeking self-generated revenues. In line with this concern, Lin, Chang, Hou, and Chou (2014) showed that diversification could cause mission displacement because many organizations would be preoccupied with meeting their diversification objectives, as opposed to fulfilling their organizational goals. The possibility of professional elites controlling the organization is also high if firms pursue a diversification strategy (Lin et al., 2014). Overall, many scholars agreed that an organization’s leadership composition, mandate of organization, size of organization, and age of the organization affect the quest to adopt a diversification strategy (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Deborah & Jones, 2009).In fact, with respect to diversification, Alqudsi-Ghabra and Al-Muomen (2012) wrote, “Examining nonprofit revenue diversification is important not only in understanding nonprofit financial management dynamics but also in informing nonprofit financial sustainability” (p. 214). Using data from more than 500 organizations, Deborah and Jones (2009) also revealed that management, investment, and environmental measures affected firm diversification strategies. In a study seeking to find out if revenue diversification improves the financial stability of nonprofit organizations, Paliwal (2013) stated, “Nonprofits can indeed reduce their revenue volatility through diversification, particularly by equalizing their reliance on earned income, investments, and contributions” (p. 6). The positive impact of diversification on financial stability also shows that the modern portfolio theory, which encourages firms to diversify their portfolios, encourages revenue stability and greater organizational longevity.

Organizational complexities and crowding out may impede an organization’s quest to improve its financial stability. Antonios, Olasupo, and Krishna (2010) encouraged the managers of nonprofits to seek additional revenue streams to improve their financial positions. Research conducted by Gholamreza, Ramadili, and Taufiq (2010) showed that older organizations were in a better position to adopt a financial diversification strategy because they had a stronger profile and credibility, compared to younger organizations. Therefore, younger organizations were bound to experience a more difficult time when they seek to attract funders, as they have a weaker legitimacy than their older counterparts have (Gholamreza et al., 2010). The implication of this assessment is that, before new organizations seek alternative sources of funding, they need to build a strong reputation to improve their image in the eyes of potential investors. Then, when potential investors view them as stable and credible organizations, they could get additional funding. Small organizations suffer from similar problems as those that affect young organizations; they also are bound to have a difficult time increasing their revenue streams compared to medium-sized or large organizations (Gholamreza et al., 2010). Large organizations are in a better position to benefit in this regard because their high capacities enable them to pursue alternative strategies for improving their financial stability. Their high recognition within the community also improves their appeal to donors because they are more attractive to investors than small organizations (Gholamreza et al., 2010). In line with this assessment, Paliwal (2013) stated, “Organizations with a broad appeal, that is, those whose mandate resonates with many segments of the population, are more successful in implementing a revenue diversification strategy than are those with narrower mandates” (pp. 8-9). In line with this statement, Deborah and Jones (2009) highlighted the importance of organizations to adopt a revenue diversification strategy that is in sync with their organizational dynamics. In this regard, organizations should consider how and when to choose a revenue diversification strategy that aligns with their size and characteristics. Based on the organizational dynamics highlighted in this document, public libraries need to consider how a diversification strategy would work considering their age, size, history, record of accomplishment, and organizational mandate.

How the Theories Relate to Public Policy and Administration

Public policy and administration spans a wide scope of issues. Coad and Guenther (2014) wrote that key tenets of public policy include “human resources, organizational, theory, policy analysis, statistics, budgeting, and ethics” (p. 857). For a long time, researchers have associated public management with the promotion of the public good. However, the recent public-management dogma has been more concerned with new and market-driven government operations (Coad & Guenther, 2014). Some researchers referred to this view as the “new public management” (Deborah & Jones, 2009. p. 948; Gholamreza et al., 2010, p. 4173). This new view aims to reform government practices by reforming the professional nature of government services. Based on this understanding, public administration theory underscores the focus of this study, which highlights the meaning and purpose of government through its institutions. Here, issues of governance, budgets, and public affairs take center stage (Deborah & Jones, 2009; Gholamreza et al., 2010).

The content of this study appeals mainly to public management dogma, which borrows administrative and functional areas, from the private sector and applies them to public management concepts (Coad & Guenther, 2014). Particularly, this discipline aims to borrow important management tools from the private sector and apply them to the public sector to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Here, it is easy to show the contrast with the public administration structure, which highlights the social and cultural attributes of the public sector that set it apart from the private sector (Coad & Guenther, 2014). Because the public policy structure is broad, the content of this study will underscore three tenets of the public policy structure: organizational theory, policy analysis, and budgeting. From a budgetary point of view, one might assume that financial stability is the function of a steady and dependable revenue structure, and because public libraries are public institutions, these revenues should benefit the public (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Coad & Guenther, 2014). However, from an administrative perspective, these revenues should also be available to cover administrative expenses such as automation upgrades and revenue shortfalls. By adopting a diversified financial structure, one may assume that no major changes in the library governing structure would occur.

This study will highlight in a comprehensive manner financial management issues that affect public libraries in America. Therefore, the financial management theories reviewed in this study may be useful in supporting these libraries as they conduct their operations in a fiscally responsible way. From a policy perspective, American public libraries should invest library funds in a way that does not infringe on existing statutes, which outline public funds management (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012; Coad & Guenther, 2014). This goal aligns with the objectives of public administration, which focuses on implementing government policies. As a field of inquiry, finding alternative sources of funds to improve the financial stability of public libraries would be useful in improving the functions and goals of public libraries through the improvement of government functions. At the core of this assessment is the study of government decision-making and policy-analysis processes (Alqudsi-Ghabra & Al-Muomen, 2012). The inputs that outline these processes and the work necessary to produce alternative policies would also be useful in understanding this output.

Rationale for Choosing the Theoretical Framework

Francis and Kim (2013) defined a theoretical framework as an analytical tool for understanding a research phenomenon. Effective theoretical frameworks analyze a real phenomenon and analyze it in an easy-to-understand manner, noted the authors. The modern portfolio theory is appropriate for this study because it focuses on social economics. As other chapters of this document will show, this theory is applicable to institutions and companies that suffer from financial problems stemming from undiversified risk (Okojie, 2010). Such is the problem that has plagued public libraries in the United States for some time. Libraries have suffered from budget cuts that have constrained the financial flow from the main, and often the only, source of income: public funding (Hood River County Libraries, 2010). Therefore, the modern portfolio theory provides a framework that could help these institutions to solve their financial predicament. Furthermore, other researchers have applied the theory in similar contexts quite successfully (Alqudsi-Ghabra and Al-Muomen, 2012). For example, financial experts have applied the theory in different project portfolios (Okojie, 2010). Its application has also stretched to nonfinancial disciplines, including regional science and social economics as applied in this study (Cross, 2011). Some researchers have used the portfolio theory to explain labor movements in America (Cross, 2011). Some of Cross’s (2011) work has also applied the theory to explain the relationship between economic growth and economic instability. Recent applications of the modern portfolio theory have stretched into psychology and the modeling of correlations between documents when retrieving information (Okojie, 2010). The purpose of doing this was to increase the relevance of a document, while reducing the associated uncertainty of getting irrelevant information. Overall, these applications showed that the theoretical framework is reliable in many social and economic contexts. This justifies its use in this study.

The resource-based view is an alternative concept that explains the need for corporate diversification (Armstrong, 2010). This view underscores the need to diversify as a strategy for companies and institutions to exploit their core competencies (i.e., resources). Usually, companies that pursue this strategy aim to explore their “excess capacity” by deploying resources that are imperfectly tradable in the market (Armstrong, 2010). Proponents of this view developed it as a concept for explaining the need to seek alternative businesses (Armstrong, 2010). However, scholars started to appreciate its use in the 1980s as an instrumental tool for explaining synergies and economies of scale (Armstrong, 2010). Andissac et al. (2014) argued that for companies to apply the resource-based view, they should have trouble exchanging their resources in the market. This strategy aligns with the assertions of Francis and Kim (2013) and their views on transaction-based economics. Researchers have used this concept to explain horizontal and vertical diversification strategies in the past (Francis & Kim, 2013).

Critique Leveled at the Modern Portfolio Theory

Opponents of the modern portfolio theory advance their criticisms of the theory based mainly on behavioral economics. For example, Alqudsi-Ghabra and Al-Muomen (2012) questioned whether the theory outlines an ideal investment strategy. The authors believed that, although the theory is widely applicable in financial circles, it does not necessarily apply in a real-world setting. The efforts of some statisticians who have tried to translate the theoretical components of the theory into a practical algorithmic formula have affirmed this concern (Okojie, 2010). In the process, they have experienced significant challenges, which stemmed from the technical problems associated with unavailable data (Francis & Kim, 2013). However, proponents of the modern portfolio theory affirmed that including a penalty would solve this problem (Francis & Kim, 2013). Aside from these main criticisms leveled at the modern portfolio theory, people have often criticized the model for its expansive assumptions.

The first assumption of the modern portfolio theory is that all investors are interested in maximizing their returns (Francis & Kim, 2013). However, the theory’s critics argued that, pragmatically, this may be false in that utility function often vary across a given range (Francis & Kim, 2013). In this respect, Okojie (2010) believed that the theory has a flawed assumption on returns. The second assumption of the modern portfolio theory stems from the efficient-markets hypothesis, which states that all investors are rational and risk averse (Francis & Kim, 2013). However, the theory’s critics contended that some investors are irrational when making financial decisions (Cross, 2011). Furthermore, they believed that even rational investors often do not display this behavior (i.e., rationality) consistently (Cross, 2011). Another disputed assumption of the modern portfolio theory is that transactions have no tax consequences or transaction costs (Francis & Kim, 2013). Here, the theory’s critics argued that most real products are taxable and have an associated transaction cost (Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011). Furthermore, they asserted that these costs, in fact, change the performance of every portfolio analyzed (Cuillier & Stoffle, 2011). Last, the modern portfolio theory assumes that all investors predetermine the risks and understand them in advance (Francis & Kim, 2013). However, critics of the modern portfolio theory believe that most experts miscalculate these risks, as seen in the recent 2007/2008 global financial crisis and the economic turmoil that affected most European economies over the last decade (Andissac et al., 2014). Here, researchers have used the theoretical framework to make distinctions about supply-and-demand forces and their effect on the behavior of consumers and companies in the market. In this study, the theoretical framework will help to organize different ideas that emerge in the course of the research. Furthermore, its application provides a model for addressing some of the inherent challenges and gaps created by the failure of public institutions to adopt mainstream corporate strategies to improve their financial performance.

This study will contribute to the development of the modern portfolio theory because there are currently no systematic methods for portfolio selection and financial diversification in the public library finance management field. Most of the researchers who have used the modern portfolio theory have mainly shown how it would apply to organizations that are free to diversify. Comparatively, they have paid little attention to those that have poor structural designs to accommodate such a strategy (financial diversification). Public libraries are such institutions because their operation structures do not openly accommodate financial diversification (compared to private entities). Since this study focuses on CCLS, which is a public organization, the findings of this study will contribute to the growing body of knowledge surrounding diversification in the public sector. This is the main contribution of the study to theory development in this sector.

However, to understand the study’s contribution to theory development, it is pertinent to understand the nature of public libraries as the focus of this chapter.

What are Public Libraries?

Public libraries differ from other types of libraries because they offer their services to all types of people in a nondiscriminatory manner. Wells (2014) stated that there are more than 16,000 public libraries in the United States, which depend on state funding to provide their services. These libraries have unique characteristics that set them apart from other types of institutions. For example, an appointed board manages the activities of these libraries and makes sure they serves the public interest before any other concern (Kim, 2011). Another characteristic is open access, that is, anybody can use these libraries. This characteristic closely aligns with the third characteristic of public: the voluntary use of its services (Wells, 2014). In other words, the government does not coerce library users to use these services. Last but not least, these libraries provide free services. Based on these characteristics, public libraries have limited options for getting financial means.

The American Library Association (2013) wrote that public library administration generally occurs at county, state, or local levels. In the United States, many cities have at least one public library, but in outlying areas, county administrations may provide library services. State libraries are often the main repository of the information contained in these public libraries. The 50 states of the United States of America have similar structures for managing public libraries; however, their organizing principles may vary. The next section outlines the different organizational structures that shape their operations.

Organizational Structure of Public Libraries in America

Similar to the structural diversity of modern businesses, public libraries have different administrative structures that define how organizational processes are carried out. Thomas (2010) wrote that the typical organization structure of a public library consists of three elements: public services, technical services, and administration. Public services refer to front office staff that interacts with the customers. The technical level comprises employees or groups of professionals who work behind the scenes to prepare materials for the clients (Dukić & Dukić, 2014). The administration level makes sure that the library’s activities align with the goals or vision of the parent organization (American Library Association, 2013). However, for public libraries, the administrative structure often makes sure that the organization’s activities align with county goals as well. Table 1 summarizes the functions of each of the structural levels of a public library.

Table 1: Functions of the Structural Level of Public Libraries

Structural Level Functions
Public Services
  • Helping clients locate materials in the library
  • Offering advisory services, especially to patrons who seek library information
  • Circulation services
  • Book selection
Technical Services
  • Cataloging (i.e., preparing a record for new books and assigning them to the existing registry)
  • Processing new library materials (i.e., assigning a book jacket, labels, or bar codes to new and existing library materials)
  • Acquiring new library materials for the institution
  • Bindery preparation
  • Repairing damaged library materials
Administrative Services
  • Maintaining a cordial relationship with the parent organization, county, and municipality
  • Preparing the library budget
  • Maintaining a cordial relationship with the library board and other stakeholders in the library sector
  • Formulating internal organizational policies
  • Authorizing the payment of invoices
  • Overseeing specific human resource functions

This chapter concentrates mainly on the roles played by the administrative services division of public libraries. Library administrations usually oversee the financial operations of public libraries. However, before discussing these operations, it is important to understand the background and history of public library funding in America.

Background and History of Public Library Funding in America

The history of public library funding in the United States traces its roots to the first establishments of public libraries, in 1656 (Harris, 1995, p. 182). Historians documented that a Boston merchant, Robert Keayne, was among the first to make his books available to the people for public use (Harris, 1995, p. 182). He used mainly his own money to finance the operation. Other historians believe that Benjamin Franklin started the first public library in America, in 1731 (American Library Association, 2013). The variations in the dates depend on the definition of the term public library and the types of services offered by these institutions. However, the proliferation of public libraries in America stems from the work of the Scottish-American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (American Library Association, 2013). He financed more than 2,000 public libraries in the country. His philanthropic work started in 1889 when he built his first public library. Since then, more than 16,000 public libraries have been built in America (American Library Association, 2013).

Although individuals financed public libraries during the 19th century, the church quickly joined this movement and started to make books available to the public (Harris, 1995). Their sources of funding came mainly from well-wishers. Kingdom Chapen Library in Boston, Massachusetts, was among the first establishments funded by donations of well-wishers from Europe (Donnelly, 2014). Between 1695 and 1704, the Catholic Church established more than 70 public libraries in some former colonies in what is now the United States of America and financed them by the same methods: donations and gifts from well-wishers (Harris, 1995). In 1731, a new model of library funding took root in the colonies: subscription funding (Black, 2011). This model of funding charged users a fee for borrowing books. It was started by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia (Harris, 1995).

The common model of public funding for libraries, as they exist today, started in the late 1800s. In 1854, the Boston Public Library was among the first to benefit from tax funding (Harris, 1995). However, the government did not wholly sponsor this library because private donations still played a prominent role in supplementing the library’s operations (American Library Association, 2013). The first public libraries to depend wholly on state funding were in New Hampshire. Here, legislators introduced a new law that required the state to levy taxes and use them to fund these organizations (Harris, 1995). The funding model was “free to all and free of charge” (American Library Association, 2013, p. 5). This model gave rise to the funding model of public libraries, as it exists today. In fact, from the New Hampshire model, other states learned to appreciate state funding as an effective way for underwriting public libraries. In the late 19th and early 20thcentury, federal funding became a common source of funding for public libraries (Harris, 1995). The legislative push for more public funding increased between 1900 and 1935, when small societies such as the advancement of women’s rights groups and educational movements advocated for public reform and an increase of state and federal funding for public libraries (Vårheim, 2014). Although this public funding model has its challenges, it basically describes the funding model used by most public libraries in America today (Casselden, Pickard, & McLeod, 2014). However, private donations and acts of philanthropy also characterize the funding model for American public libraries. For example, in 2008, the Gates Foundation donated approximately $7 million to public libraries across the country to improve the quality of their services (American Library Association, 2013). Other small groups such as Friends of Libraries (FOL) and the Association of Library Trustees and Advocates also provided alternative sources of funding (American Library Association, 2013). The global economic downturn of2007/2008 has drastically reduced state funding to these institutions (American Library Association, 2013). Figure 2 illustrates the dwindling funds for public libraries in Ohio, which affected the performance of Licking County Library (2014).

State funding history in Ohio
Figure 2. State funding history in Ohio. 

Figure 2 shows that state funding remained relatively constant between 2003 and 2008. However, since then, library funding has suffered from severe budget cuts. The next section examines this issue in greater detail.

Current Financial Challenges Facing U.S. Public Libraries

Public libraries depend largely on local or municipal sources of funding to finance their activities. Although these sources of funding have kept them afloat for a long time, recent economic changes and increased financial pressures on state and federal agencies have limited the scale of financial funding from public coffers (Goulding, 2012). For example, the 2007/2008 global economic crisis caused a huge financial problem for state and federal agencies associated with welfare services because they were unable to maintain their financial outflow to public libraries when there were more pressing financial needs in the country such as high unemployment rates and the collapsing financial sector (American Library Association, 2013).

School libraries are also experiencing the effects of budget cuts that have characterized the troubles of public libraries. Ignatow (2011), for example, reported that many school libraries have disengaged some of their workers or reassigned them to do other duties in the school because of budget cuts. Alternatively, library workers who remain in the library sector have had to contend with pay cuts. For example, Juniper, Bellamy, and White (2012) asserted that between 2010 and 2011, library workers in American public schools experienced a 2% pay cut. Experts predicted that this trend might continue in the next decade because many American public schools are looking for new ways to save money by consolidating some of their traditional services (American Library Association, 2013). Hood River County Libraries (2010) expressed similar beliefs and their view that most public schools in America would most likely suffer from the negative impact of decreased public funding, especially through sequestration. Furthermore, academic libraries have suffered the a similar fate. The closure of mainstream public libraries has been the main outcome of this process (Hood River County Libraries, 2010). The United Kingdom (UK) and Canada have reported the highest numbers of public library closures because of financial challenges (Juniper et al., 2012). Libraries that have not closed have experienced a significant reduction in library services provided to patrons (American Library Association, 2013).

The School Library Journal (cited in Hood River County Libraries, 2010) emphasized that the closure of many public libraries due to budget cuts has reduced the overall performance of students, as compared to states that have increased their library services. The National Center for Education Statistics (cited in American Library Association, 2013) reported that the poor educational standards witnessed by the former stemmed from a reduction in the number of library service assistants. Findings from the Education Law Center of the United States (cited in Hood River County Libraries, 2010)supported these findings, which showed that students are likely to gain advanced writing skills if they frequent libraries with full-time workers, as opposed to libraries that have only part-time workers, or underpaid workers. These assertions showed that many school libraries would have to face and manage the pressures from budget cuts and the changing job descriptions of their library workers (Williamson, 2014).

The biggest budget cuts occurred in 2011-2012 when the effects of the global financial crisis began to reach different sectors of the American economy (Ndeshi & Niskala, 2013). Within this period, 5% of American libraries reported decreased funding (American Library Association, 2014). Consequently, many libraries resorted to rebalancing their financial statements. An online survey that sought the opinions of public library administrators in 49 of the 50 states showed that more than 23 states in America experienced decreased funding for 3 years before 2011 (American Library Association, 2014). Only one state reported increased funding from state authorities. Nonetheless, legislative changes in the state required the library to reevaluate its services and adjust its activities to meet the threshold required of a lower funding level (American Library Association, 2014). From the sampled states, 16reportednonsignificant changes in the level of funding from both federal and state sources (American Library Association, 2014).

To demonstrate the financial challenges that affect many public libraries in America, the American Library Association (2014) averred that public libraries in California experienced a 50% reduction in budget allocations between 2010 and 2011 (the state provides about $30,000,000 in state funding). The effects of the budget cuts were worse in 2011 when the governor announced the cancellation of state funding for these programs in mid-year (Ndeshi & Niskala, 2013). Meanwhile, residents polled in California indicated that they wanted a $50 million increase in government spending for public libraries without an increase in taxes (American Library Association, 2014). However, the government did not abide by their wishes. Public libraries in Washington experienced budget cuts of a similar magnitude, reported Ndeshi and Niskala (2013), when the legislature cut state funding to public libraries by more than $1.4 million between 2011 and 2013. This cut represents a 12.5% reduction in state funding (Ndeshi & Niskala, 2013). Experts declared that state funding of public libraries declined by more than 30% since the 2007/2008 global economic crisis swept over many developed countries. The same professionals estimated that library staffing in the states decreased by a similar margin (American Library Association, 2014). Figure 3 shows the percentage of public libraries affected by budget cuts during the 2007/2008 financial crisis.

Percentage of public libraries affected by budget cuts
Figure 3.Percentage of public libraries affected by budget cuts

Budget cuts at the local, i.e., county level compounded the budget cuts in state funding. In fact, the American Library Association (2014) estimated that 42% of public libraries in America experienced major budget cuts at the local level between 2009 and 2013. These compounded financial problems led to library closures in several states. According to Nitecki and Abels (2010), the highest numbers of library closures occurred in Michigan and New Jersey. Libraries that survived the threat of closure now faced their own dilemma with respect to where to introduce budget cuts as they had no other option besides downsizing. The most common effect of these budget cuts was a reduction in operating hours. The American Library Association (2014) stated that, nationally, 16% of public libraries reported a reduction in operating hours. Almost 3 years after the global financial crisis, the budget cuts still affected urban dwellers. This was a direct result of the fact that about one third of public libraries reduced their operating hours (Ndeshi & Niskala, 2013).

The financial challenges facing public libraries were not particular to the United States; European and Canadian public libraries also experienced such challenges. For example, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (cited in Ndeshi & Niskala, 2013) maintained that the budget cuts witnessed in Europe in the last 4 years i.e., since 2011 had far-reaching impacts on the public sector, in fact, worse than any other economic crisis that hit the public sector since the Second World War. Many English local authorities, which manage public libraries, are likely to experience these challenges in the future, after the central government makes significant cuts to various public sectors, including public libraries (Ndeshi & Niskala, 2013). Experts estimated that the spending power of these institutions would decline by up to 9% (Ndeshi & Niskala, 2013). Such financial challenges have led to the development of various austerity budgets for prioritizing different expenditure areas that affect library performance.

Although public libraries continue to suffer from budget cuts, Ndeshi and Niskala (2013) stated that the uptake of library services has risen in the last few years. In line with this assertion, the American Library Association (2014) reported that “not only do visits and circulation continue to rise, the role of public libraries in providing Internet resources to the public continues to increase as well” (p. 1). Thus, as libraries experience increased pressures weighing on their resources and staff to meet growing client needs, they are grappling simultaneously with the challenges of decreased funding. The huge financial troubles facing public libraries have forced some of them to become innovative and adopt unconventional strategies to save costs (Avdeeva, 2010). Sharif and Demers (2013) noted that a public library in New York recently donated all its physical books and, in their stead, made sure that its users had access to the materials through digital platforms. Before the library made these changes, it provided computers to all its patrons (Sharif & Demers, 2013). Although this strategy reduced the overall operating costs of the library, a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (cited in Hill & Bossaller, 2013) recently published a document suggesting that public libraries should collaborate with their contemporaries and provide their users with the same services they would offer if they stocked physical books. To comprehend this suggestion, it is important to understand the alternative strategies that could help public libraries to overcome their financial challenges.

New or Alternative Strategies for Public Library Funding

Because of the increased pressure on public libraries to seek alternative ways of financing their activities, some researchers have suggested that these institutions should seek non-tax-based sources of financing (Hood River County Libraries, 2010; Nitecki & Abels, 2010). To get away from the financial pressures experienced by public libraries, Lee and Chung (2012) emphasized the need for public libraries to diversify their sources of funding and not rely solely on funding through local taxes, state finances, and federal grants. Some common non-tax-based sources include user charges, fines, contracts, and sales. This view aligns with the assertions of Thornton (2014), who suggested that public libraries should consider “events, donations, endowments, and grants” (p. 176) as possible alternative sources of funding.

The main argument made by proponents of diversification is the expansion of library programs that would otherwise be nonexistent if libraries did not get extra money to finance them (Hood River County Libraries, 2010; Nitecki & Abels, 2010). Nitecki and Abels (2010) added that the Literacy Heroes’ Breakfast is one such program that allows libraries to generate extra money to support their activities and, at the same time, increase literacy levels of the community. However, private investors are usually more interested in diversification as opposed to state or local government interventions (Nitecki & Abels, 2010). This is a cyclic pattern of financial support because private investors are more willing to invest in innovative library programs as opposed to government investors, who are more hesitant to do so (Thornton, 2014). Therefore, public libraries that diversify and support innovative programs are likely to benefit in this regard.

Community involvement is another advantage associated with diversification in public libraries. It stems from the belief that most public libraries that adopt diversification strategies are likely to benefit from increased community participation, or involvement in their activities (Johnson & Griffis, 2014). Consequently, community involvement promotes the public image of the libraries and increases the level of community support and visibility of these institutions. To highlight this fact, Nitecki & Abels (2010) admitted that public libraries that diversify their operations often get enough capital to finance large marketing and advertisement programs. For example, public libraries that market their grants at a public mall could get increased community support when shoppers decide to frequent the libraries and exploit the available grants (Huysmans & Oomes, 2013).

Many financial analysts support a diversification strategy to improve financial stability in public libraries. Critics say that public libraries should refrain from adopting corporate-style strategies and, instead, focus on lobbying lawmakers to increase the tax support for public libraries (Nitecki & Abels, 2010). Proponents of this view tend to argue that public libraries should continue to rely on tax funds at levels that are sufficient to cover their operating expenses (Nitecki & Abels, 2010). They believed that diversification would affect the public good provided by these institutions (Nitecki & Abels, 2010). However, Griffis and Johnson (2014) disagreed with this viewpoint because they observed that funding equity issues make it difficult for such libraries to provide the so-called public good to their clients as they are meant to do. In this regard, the authors did not believe in using the tax base as the main criterion for sourcing money for public libraries. Here, they argued that public libraries that operate in states, counties, or municipalities with a low tax base are likely to suffer from poor financial inflow, compared to libraries that depend on county or state governments that have a high tax base (Griffis & Johnson, 2014). In this regard, Albertini (2013) acknowledged the need of public libraries to find alternative financial sources and not depend on public funding if they want to provide effective services. Some common alternative sources of funding that emerged here include fundraising, corporate partnerships, entrepreneurial projects outside the library field, expanding user charges, education funding, and merging and privatization,

Fundraising. As mentioned earlier, public libraries receive money from individuals and well-wishers as alternative sources of funding. Individuals account for the highest number of non-state sources of finance to supplement library financing (De Witte & Geys, 2011). Similarly, fundraising is a common source of funding for public libraries. However, Bailey (2011) believed that library administrators have not effectively exploited this strategy. Therefore, he encouraged public libraries in the United States, to seek alternative sources of funding through fundraising (Bailey, 2011). He did so by giving examples and case studies of some nonprofit institutions that have improved their financial positions through this strategy. He stated that many public libraries in the United States have improved their financial positions through “foundations, trusts, property development, and private sector grants” (Bailey, 2011, p. 119). With these funding models, he described possible fundraising strategies for public libraries.

Corporate partnerships. Corporate partnerships can manifest in different ways. The easiest way for libraries to benefit from this strategy is to seek corporate sponsorships. Nitecki and Abels (2010) encouraged administrators of public libraries to consider corporate sponsorships as an alternative source of funding for their libraries. They reminded these institutions that they no longer enjoyed the benefits of an information monopoly since the Internet has made information more accessible to people all over the world (Nitecki & Abels, 2010). According to Koulouris and Kapidakis (2012), corporate sponsorship would help public libraries to solve several financial challenges, including changing customer needs and changing policy requirements. Alternatively, public libraries could seek different kinds of partnerships with corporate bodies, including training and funding partnerships and similar arrangements aimed at improving information dissemination (Jaeger, Greene, Bertot, Perkins, & Wahl, 2012). Other partnerships pursued by some public libraries include “program development partnerships, partnerships to build and share audiences, research and product development partnerships and political alliances” (American Library Association, 2014, p. 2). This type of alternative funding is prevalent in Singapore. Incidentally, some American public libraries have pursued this strategy successfully. For example, West Chester Public Library, Pennsylvania was able to improve its financial position by seeking lucrative partnerships with private firms (Nitecki & Abels, 2010). Abubakar (2013) declared that big libraries are in a better position to exploit this alternative source of funding than small libraries mostly those that serve a population of less than 25,000 people because such libraries are heavily dependent on gifts and donations, as opposed to state or public financing. Furthermore, big public libraries enjoy a higher credibility in society, compared to small libraries (Abubakar, 2013). Referring to the possibility of public libraries collaborating with corporations to improve their financial positions, Nitecki and Abels (2010) added that “corporations can be important public library allies and collaborators, important both for their economic power and for the increased library visibility that their marketing skills and public relations expertise can engender” (p. 137).

Entrepreneurial projects outside the library field. Legally, public libraries in America are required to offer free services to their users (Kwak & Yoo, 2012). However, some diversification strategies demand that public libraries engage in profit-making ventures to support their activities. For example, Nitecki and Abels (2010) suggested that an alternative form of diversification may be to allow libraries to engage in profit-making activities such as operating coffee shops or lending books for a fee. Alternatively, some institutions have started new businesses such as cafeterias and gift shops on the library premises and used the revenue generated by these businesses to support library operations (Berry, 2010). However, Kwak and Yoo (2012) informed that some public libraries might not be legally equipped to accommodate such activities because they would be beyond the scope of activities that such institutions are supposed to perform. Therefore, the authors believed, there needs to be a change of legislation to allow library administrators to undertake such activities if public libraries need to participate in such profit-making ventures. Even when the law allows such ventures, introducing entrepreneurial projects outside the library field to generate income for public libraries depends on the will of public library managers to do so (Berry, 2010).

Expanding user charges. Although public libraries did well on a free-for-all financial model in the past, there has been an increase in the suggestions that they should think of adopting an alternative financial structure that accommodates the collection of small fees for providing library services (Berry, 2010; Kwak &Yoo, 2012). Indeed, since the 1980s, public libraries have charged patrons for losing or damaging library materials (Williamson, Bannister, & Sullivan, 2010). Fines are part of a wider group of alternative funding sources that generate revenue for replacing lost items, as is the selling of old library materials. Blume-Kohout, Kumar, and Sood (2014) mentioned that only 5% of public libraries in America use this financial model. Most of them will charge users for photocopy services, while others also charge for microform prints (Berry, 2010). Figure 4 shows the revenue sources for Licking County Library (2014), where user charges account for the smallest source of revenue for this particular library.

Revenue sources for public libraries
Figure 4. Revenue sources for public libraries

As shown in Figure 4, state funding accounts for the highest percentage of public library financing. Property tax levy, which accounts for $2,291,403 of revenue, follows closely behind. Other sources (e.g., grants and donations) account for the third largest source of public library financing in America. Fines are the least lucrative of revenue sources for public libraries (Licking County Library, 2014). These findings seem to leave much room for libraries to charge higher user fines. Licking County Library (2014) admitted that this strategy might not necessarily imply that the institutions expand their bases for penalizing users because more potential for increasing revenue exists in increasing the fine amounts charged to patrons. This way they would collect more revenue and improve their financial stability.

Education funding. Given that public libraries play a critical role in improving the educational standards of various jurisdictions, statewide Boards of Education in America have proposed that these boards should supplement library finances to maintain or improve the role of public libraries in the community (Elbert, Fuegi, & Lipeikaite, 2012). A 2013 Supreme Court case where the Kanawha Board of Education in West Virginia filed a Supreme Court case to compel the County Board of Education to finance a public library highlights this fact (League of Women Voters of West Virginia, 2014). The Court dismissed the case and said that such an appeal was unconstitutional. Instead, the court challenged the state government to introduce a comprehensive system of education that caters to the educational needs of children up to the age of 3 years (League of Women Voters of West Virginia, 2014, p. 3). The result of this decision was the dismissal of any sort of obligation on the part of boards of education to fund public libraries. The decision has, however, made funding sources of public library more unpredictable and their financial circumstances more precarious, even though it did not affect all counties in West Virginia to the same degree. The court allowed other boards of education either to continue funding public libraries or to stop such activities. Nonetheless, a board’s willingness to supplement library finances depends on the wishes of the board managers (League of Women Voters of West Virginia, 2014). Overall, this could be an alternative funding source for public libraries.

Merging and privatization. Even though an uncommon strategy, some observers suggested the need for public libraries to merge or privatize as strategies for improving their financial performance (Ganegoda & Evans, 2014). Some public libraries have adopted this strategy successfully. For example, as the American Library Association (2014) stated, Illinois public libraries have often merged through a common platform by the name of Reaching Across the Illinois Library System. This system linked five public library systems in response to managing the financial problems that were facing them. Referring to this strategy, the American Library Association (2014) stated, “The decision to combine the Metropolitan, Alliance, DuPage, North Suburban, and Prairie Area library systems was made to answer ongoing financial woes faced by the state-funded operations” (p. 10). Some public libraries that have shied away from adopting this strategy have chosen instead to adopt privatization as an alternative strategy. For example, Elliot (2013) confirmed that a public library in Osceola County, Florida, has adopted this strategy successfully. The library did so by subcontracting with a private firm to manage the institution’s finances. The private company signed a 5-year lease with the library and received compensation worth $4.71 million annually for their services (American Library Association, 2014). Library administrators pursued this strategy because it would save the institution the trouble of having to reduce their working hours and inconvenience their patrons (Ganegoda & Evans, 2014). The American Library Association (2014) added that another public library in Santa Clara, California, also adopted this strategy because the administrators believed that it would save the institution the alternative of firing some of its employees. Some jurisdictions, however, make it difficult for public libraries to privatize because they require the institutions to back their plans with “hard numbers” (Ganegoda & Evans, 2014). The American Library Association (2014) has taken a stricter stance on privatization and most of their publications adopt a cautionary tone regarding this process. For example, a 2013 task force report published on the association’s website argued that the privatization of public libraries did not necessarily lead to cost savings (American Library Association, 2014). This is why the association cautioned library administrators about the perils of privatization; it believed that besides producing minimum cost savings, library administrators should understand that a privatization strategy would affect the scope of their services because public libraries should provide public, not private services (American Library Association, 2014). Based on these concerns, some states have introduced new legislations to prevent public libraries from privatizing.

Issues to Consider When Adopting a Diversification Strategy

In America’s Public Libraries

For a long time, the legal and administrative effects of diversification have captured the attention of researchers such as Ganegoda and Evans (2014), Ndeshi and Niskala (2013), and Kwak and Yoo (2012). In fact, Kwak and Yoo (2012) stated that this focus has preoccupied the attention of researchers more than any other field of empirical investigation. Their investigations have revealed that public library managers need to consider different issues before diversifying. These issues include legal considerations and lack of structural uniformity.

Legal Considerations

Many American states have allowed public libraries to levy some type of charges for using library services (Wight, 1953). However, as Ganegoda and Evans (2014) underscored, it is important to have a legislative framework that supports this activity. The importance of a legislative framework to support the levying of public funds has emerged in the past (Wight, 1953). For example, in 1848, the Massachusetts General Court allowed the state of Boston to impose taxes on library users as an alternative source of funding to support the library’s activities (Wight, 1953). As many states in America have adopted this strategy without any legal framework—because they are lacking the power to diversify—a definite need exists to outline a legislative framework to support financial diversification (Ganegoda & Evans, 2014). The federal government wields the greatest power in the country; however, state authorities wield powers that the country does not delegate to the federal government. Conversely, state authorities delegate their powers to municipalities, local governments, and townships, thereby allowing them to undertake different activities, including managing the finances of public libraries (Ganegoda &Evans, 2014).

Based on the factors described, Smet and Dhamdhere (2013) noted that, when it comes to library funding in America, state governments have a great deal of discretion in making funding decisions through their delegated authority regarding public libraries. This control stems from their grip on welfare services, healthcare services, and environmental protection services in their jurisdictions (Ganegoda &Evans, 2014). The legal framework for diversification reinforces the assertions of Wight (1953), who said that all alternatives for the diversification strategy needed to conform to federal, state, and other legal guidelines. Besides these factors, Smet and Dhamdhere (2013) found that diversification needs to protect the financial investments of the libraries and maintain sufficient liquidity for libraries to operate as they should. The Coal City Public Library District (2014) joined this debate and professed that public libraries should make sure that their strategies provide a good return on investment when they seek alternative financial sources. Put differently, the investment portfolio, introduced by the organizations, should show a positive rate of return throughout the economic, or budget, cycle (Coal City Public Library District, 2014). Here, the investment decisions made by the library administrators should consider the risks and constraints associated with the investment decisions (Coal City Public Library District, 2014). Furthermore, they should consider the cash flow characteristics associated with every investment portfolio. In line with this reasoning, Smet and Dhamdhere (2013) agreed that, whichever diversification strategy a library chooses, it should include simplicity of management. Last but not least, the directors of public libraries should make sure to conduct periodic reviews of library performance to ensure that their institutions serve the intended purpose (Smet & Dhamdhere, 2013). The Coal City Public Library District (2014) insisted on this task because it firmly believed that it belongs to a library director’s most fundamental duties to do so. However, Smet and Dhamdhere (2013) revealed that most public libraries tend to overlook the possible ethical dilemmas and conflicts of interest that tend to arise when libraries choose to diversify their financial options. On the other hand, Sung, Hepworth, and Ragsdell (2013) took issue with this argument when they stated that public libraries are public institutions, which allows them to enjoy partial insulation from corrupt or unethical business practices, which are common in the private sector. Even so, Düren (2013) agreed with Sung et al. (2013) by suggesting that, when public libraries choose to engage in lucrative or profit-making business ventures, they need to make sure there are no conflicts of interest between the need for managers to do their jobs and the need for public libraries to improve the welfare of the community. Such conflicts of interest could easily impair the decision of library managers during the decision-making process.

When public libraries engage in profit-making ventures to improve their financial positions, Düren (2013) emphasized the need to collaborate with authorized financial dealers and institutions. Therefore, they do not have the same liberty that private firms enjoy when trading with other business partners. Most of these authorized investment firms should serve the purpose of deposit and investment advisors (Sung et al., 2013). The choice to outsource services to third-party agents depends on the decisions made by boards of trustees (Coal City Public Library District, 2014). In lieu of the need for public libraries to seek the services of authorized investment agencies, Düren (2013) pointed out the need for these institutions to make authorized and suitable investments. Notwithstanding, with differences between the states, financial investments made by public libraries also need to have collateral (Coal City Public Library District, 2014). In other words, most investments made by public institutions are subject to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) limit, which, if passed, subjects these institutions to the need of providing a collateral (Coal City Public Library District, 2014). This requirement protects the institutions from losing their money. It should also be set down in a written contract, held by an independent third party. Similarly, public libraries are required to maintain a paper trail of all their investment decisions for purposes of accountability (Newberry, 2014). Despite the factors outlines in this section regarding the most important conditions guiding financial diversification of American public libraries, the Coal City Public Library District (2014) maintained that ideal diversification alternatives are those that meet the financial requirements of the library, that is, its cash flow.

Lack of Structural Uniformity

Besides the legal limitations on allowing public libraries to levy fees on their users, the League of Women Voters of West Virginia (2014) averred that the lack of structural uniformity among public libraries often impedes the process of adopting an acceptable strategy for diversification. For example, West Virginia has more than 97 public library systems, exposing a lack of uniformity in financial management (League of Women Voters of West Virginia, 2014). West Virginia strove to manage this lack of uniformity among its public libraries by introducing a service center that links the small libraries with big libraries (League of Women Voters of West Virginia, 2014). Within this system, the service center receives additional funding from the state to support its delegated activities. To demonstrate how this system works, the League of Women Voters of West Virginia (2014) wrote that Cabell County Public Library served as a service center for eight smaller public libraries in the state. The range of services offered by the main library includes payroll processing and book deliveries, among other services. West Virginia has 133 service centers that cater to the needs of approximately 13-14 affiliate libraries each (League of Women Voters of West Virginia, 2014). Observers believe that these service centers play an important role in reducing the financial burden of their affiliate libraries. In fact, they encourage such libraries to associate themselves with a service center as a cost-saving measure.

Summary and Conclusion

As revealed by existing literature, public libraries are instrumental to the social, economic, and politic development of American society. They are more than a source of books or reference materials for academic pursuits. Public libraries provide jobs and information and act as reference points for social services and other welfare activities. The literature revealed that, because these organizations are instrumental to people’s life-long growth, local tax-based funding mechanisms would still play a vital role in promoting financial stability to these public institutions. The literature also showed, however, that more emphasis needs to be placed on finding alternative sources of funding to keep these institutions functioning as intended. Many researchers believed that this is the only way that public libraries will be able to continue improving the quality of their patrons’ lives in an economically and educationally sustainable way (Ganegoda & Evans, 2014; Smet & Dhamdhere, 2013). This chapter also documented some of the criticisms leveled at diversification strategies and provided explanations why some scholars believed that a tax-based approach to public funding is still the ideal financial structure for public libraries. Their studies have highlighted the legal challenges and conflicts of interest that could arise when public libraries pursue a financial diversification strategy. Furthermore, these public institutions have a high return on investment (ROI). Some of these returns are nonmonetary. For example, the revenues generated from their activities have a huge positive impact on local economies. In addition, this chapter showed that financial diversification is a concept pursued by many profit-making businesses to meet their corporate goals. However, it has not taken root in the nonfinancial sector. Moreover, there is insufficient literature extant for explaining how this strategy would work in organizations that do not have the same organizational foundations as for-profit organizations to buttress such a strategy. Although many of the studies reviewed in this chapter supported a financial diversification strategy, it is still unclear how these strategies would affect the direction of these institutions. In fact, as Nitecki and Abels (2010) observed, people have varied opinions about the need for public libraries to diversify their finances and move away from public funding. The focus of this study aims to answer some of these questions as it seeks to answer if a financial diversification strategy would work for one nonprofit organization, the case examined in this research, Clayton County Library System.

This chapter provided a review of pertinent literature. A description of the literature search strategy and key terms used in the search were discussed, followed by establishing a theoretical foundation for the study. An overview of what a public library is, was provided; how these institutions were traditionally funded, and what financial challenges they are currently facing. Alternative funding strategies were examined and discussed including the need for legal considerations and dealing with the lack of structural uniformity among public libraries when considering alternative strategies. In Chapter 3, a description of the research methods for the proposed study will be reported, including an explanation of the case method and the rationale for choosing it in preference over other qualitative approaches. The chapter will also describe characteristics of experts to be interviewed regarding the current financial and administrative structure of the case in point and the feasibility of adopting alternative funding strategies. The chapter will conclude a consideration of the issues of trustworthiness in research and the ethical protection of participants.

Research Method

Introduction

The purpose of this study is to provide a thorough understanding of the unique structural, legal, and operational dynamics associated with adopting a financial diversification strategy in Clayton County Library System and explore what would support or, conversely, hinder this strategy. An extensive review of the literature, revealed that few researchers have conducted research studies to investigate how a financial diversification strategy would work in public libraries (League of Women Voters of West Virginia, 2014; Newberry, 2014; Sung et al., 2013). To fill this research gap, it is important to interview professionals who are knowledgeable about this topic, and review existing documents surrounding financial diversification in CCLS.

This study will incorporate a controlled review of the financial practices of CCLS and their effects on the success of financial diversification strategies in this organization. To gain a practical understanding of this research focus, current and former library directors, including assistant directors and branch managers of CCLS will be interviewed. This study will benefit from two sources of data including interviews from different types of respondents to obtain a multifaceted understanding of the research topic (Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information, 2014; Yin, 2015). This chapter presents the research methods proposed for the study, including the rationale for choosing a case study design, and explain the role of the researcher. In addition, the population, sample, and sample selection, as well as data collection and data analysis procedures will be described. Issues of trustworthiness and the measures taken to protect the rights of the participants will also be examined.

Research Design and Rationale

Research Approach: A Qualitative Study

This research is a qualitative, single case study, that seeks to provide a thorough understanding of the unique structural, legal, and operational dynamics associated with adopting a financial diversification strategy in Clayton County Library System and explore what would support or, conversely, hinder this strategy. The research sub questions are as follows:

  • What are the structural implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS?
  • What are the legal considerations for the adoption of a financial diversification strategy at Clayton County Library System?
  • What are the operational implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS?

The central goal of the study is to explore the feasibility of developing a financial diversification strategy for CCLS. Financial diversification is more common in the profit-making sector than in the nonprofit sector (Carroll, Booth, & Lloyd-Jones, 2012). Different structural and operational implications may present themselves in the nonprofit sector when the adoption of a financial diversification plan is being considered. For example, for-profit organizations have some specific structural, administrative, and financial frameworks that simplify the adoption of a financial diversification strategy. Nonprofit organizations, such as CCLS, however, may lack such dynamics, which may complicate the processes of diversifying funding sources. In this study, themes and patterns related to understanding the prospects of adopting a financial diversification strategy in CCLS a non-profit organization will be explored. This analysis will be guided by the research questions, which strive to explain the legal ramifications of doing so and to understand the ways leadership of Clayton County Library System can diversify funding?

Qualitative Methods Considered

This study will use the qualitative research approach because the research focuses on a simple phenomenon that requires a simple understanding of the financial practices of CCLS and its potential for applying a financial diversification strategy. The quantitative research approach is not applicable to this study because it looks at broader trends and focuses on the general nature of a phenomenon in its designs (Yin, 2015). Comparatively, qualitative work often aspires towards uncovering themes and patterns and delves into a deeper context (Stanford Center, 2014; Thatchenkery, 2005; Yin, 2015). Stated differently, in quantitative research studies, researchers observe phenomena as they occur, but sometimes fail to explain why these phenomena occur as they do. The qualitative case study design will allow me to overcome this limitation pertaining to many quantitative approaches and permit the collection of new information that may shed light on the underlying reasons for the conditions as they are, thus adding to the body of knowledge regarding financial diversification in public libraries (Stanford Center, 2014; Thatchenkery, 2005; Yin, 2015). The specific issue is to explore how Clayton County Library System could diversify its funding sources to become financially sustainable. Additionally, through the qualitative research approach, this case study design will help in demonstrating to financial decision makers the dynamics of a very complex issue – financial diversification in the non-profit sector (Stanford Center, 2014: Thatchenkery, 2005; Yin, 2015). To find the most suitable research method for this study, various qualitative methods for use in data collection from knowledgeable informants on the topic will be considered and evaluated; among which are:

  • Ethnography. Ethnography is a credible method for obtaining qualitative research data. It requires the researcher to become an active participant in the study through observation (Stanford Center, 2014). In this case, a researcher would have to observe the research phenomenon from the inside, as it were, for a long time. However, the focus of this research topic does not require such thorough research designs because the topic analyzed is simple and does not require a deep analysis. Interviewing and document analysis are, thus, better approaches to gain an understanding of financial operations of CCLS because they would provide sufficient information about the possibility of adopting a financial diversification strategy in the library (Stanford Center, 2014; Thatchenkery, 2005; Yin, 2015).
  • Direct observation. The direct observation method usually entails watching a group of people without interfering in their activities (Hoon, 2013). Although a direct observer may not plan to be a participant in the activities of the subject, this research method would also be undesirable for the proposed study because it would fail to reveal the scope of financial challenges and solutions that apply to public libraries. It would be impossible for the researcher to be everywhere and see everything first-hand as it pertains to the phenomenon under study (Thatchenkery, 2005).
  • Grounded theory methodology. Albeit a useful research method, this method was not chosen for this study because it would require a lengthy analysis of data to come up with credible findings (Yin, 2015) that could lead to the formulation of a new theory. The main reason for rejecting the grounded theory methodology, however, was its tendency to contradict traditional research models that will otherwise allow researchers to use their theoretical framework to investigate phenomena and evaluate them in light of their premises (Stanford Center, 2014; Thatchenkery, 2005; Yin, 2015). In this study, the intent is to rely on the modern portfolio theory as the main theoretical framework. Thus, it would be difficult to use grounded theory methodology, as it might contradict the goals set forth by the theoretical framework for investigating the research phenomenon. Furthermore, its use could fail to reveal the thought processes underlining the application of financial diversification strategies in public libraries.
  • Phenomenology. The phenomenological approach is a useful qualitative research method for explaining people’s subjective experiences regarding a research issue (Hoon, 2013). However, this method would not be appropriate for the proposed study because phenomenology is mostly applicable in exploring deep phenomena among individuals with a shared experience such as soldiers who suffer trauma in a war, cancer survivors and the likes. Moreover, in the case of CCLS, this characteristic does not align with the research questions (Stanford Center, 2014; Thatchenkery, 2005). More so, an examination into the phenomenon was considered more widely, but the varying demographics made it important to have a variety of professionals reflect on the specific conditions at CCLS.

Research Design of Choice: The Case Study

The research design of choice for this study is the Case Study approach. Harvard University was among the first institutions to use the case study approach in the mid-20th century (University of Portsmouth, 2010). Its application in public administration started during the 1940s, when scholars used it to investigate how they could improve governance structures (Stich, Cipollone, Nikischer, & Weis, 2012). The motivation for doing so was to provide a real-life framework where administrators could apply policies in easy-to-understand contexts (Siebart, 2005; Stanford Center, 2014; Yin, 2015). Yin (2015) defined case studies as “experiential explorations that examine an existing occurrence thoroughly within their real life milieu” (p. 27). Case studies are often subjective because they define experiential explorations of a study topic, using ordinary language. The first role of the case study researcher is observation (Yin, 2015). Later, investigations, or further probing, should occur to explain why an observation is how it is (Siebart, 2005; Stanford Center, 2014; Yin, 2015).

Data collection in this case study design will involve the use of two sources of data. This study will use face-to-face interviews and document analysis as the main sources of confirmatory, but independent, data. This approach will strive to get double data points on the same phenomenon. This method also will create a coherent wholesome analysis of the research phenomenon because it will allow for the collection of primary and secondary research information. Interviews will provide the primary research materials, while the document review process will provide secondary research information. These data sources will complement one another because the interviewing processes will help to fill knowledge gaps that will emerge during the document review process. The dual data collection method will allow for a profitable closeness to the research phenomenon analyzed. This advantage will allow for a greater sensitivity to the different sources of data that will be used in the study. Therefore, the dual data collection method will serve as the glue for interpreting the different types of information obtained from the two sources of data. Besides the above advantages, the dual data collection technique will aid in answering the two sub research questions, which strived to know the extent that the leadership of Clayton County Library System can diversify funding.

The technique will also assist in understanding the legal considerations for the adoption of a financial diversification strategy at Clayton County Library System. In addition, using the document review technique will also help to answer the research question because it will provide a background of the legal considerations of financial diversification in the public library sector. Similarly, it will provide the institutional memory regarding the adoption of a financial diversification strategy in non-profit organizations. Comparatively, through the interview techniques, the dual data collection method will enhance answering the first research sub question by providing knowledge regarding how the leadership of Clayton County Library System can diversify funding of CCLS and their ramifications on the adoption of a financial diversification strategy.

Researchers have used the case study research design in many studies and across different disciplines, including social sciences, psychology, and ecology (Yin, 2015). Instead of conducting a sweeping statistical survey of the financial strategies in Georgian and other American public libraries, this study will use the case study approach to focus on one institution, the Clayton County Library System (Stanford Center, 2014; Yin, 2015). This approach will be useful because, as Boblin, Ireland, Kirkpatrick, and Robertson (2013) explained, different institutions have different operational frameworks, which could affect the application of the financial diversification strategy. The main motivation for adopting this strategy was the capability of the case study design to narrow a broad research area, or the research focus, into a manageable and easy-to-understand research focus, or area (Stanford Center, 2014; Yin, 2015). This process is similar to how the case study design helps researchers to test the application of scientific theories (Stanford Center, 2014; Yin, 2015). Similarly, this design will answer questions regarding considerations for the adoption of a financial diversification strategy in the not-for-profit sector. It is for these reasons that psychologists and social science researchers have regarded the case method as a valid analytical research method for many years (Stanford Center, 2014; Thatchenkery, 2005). It is also for this reason that the case study design provided realistic responses, in which case it is dissimilar to many other research designs (Stanford Center, 2014; Siebart, 2005; Yin, 2015). This approach is unlike the approach adopted by pure scientists who are more focused on proving or disapproving some hypothesis, rather than on understanding why these outcomes are as observed (Stanford Center, 2014; Thatchenkery, 2005; Yin, 2015). Nonetheless, some researchers avoid using the case study approach because they believe that its narrow focus could not be trusted to produce useful findings across a large sample (Siebart, 2005; Stanford Center, 2014; Yin, 2015).

The proposed study will be an instrumental case study. An instrumental case study examines a particular phenomenon with the aim of providing insight into a specific issue (Grandy, 2013; Stake, 1995). In extrapolating this definition to this study, CCLS, which strives to explore the possibility of adopting a financial diversification strategy to improve the financial position of its operations, would be instrumental in providing insight regarding the adoption of a financial diversification strategy in non-profit institutions (Grandy, 2013). Therefore, this study’s findings will be useful beyond the scope outlined in the design section, that is, beyond Clayton County Library System. In other words, the research findings will be useful to the wider scope of public libraries that experience financial hardships, both within the state of Georgia and other American states. This case study will also be a collective enterprise because this study will not solicit the views of only one library administrator, but of several. In this regard, there will be greater understanding of the general financial operations of CCLS and the implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy in the organization.

Role of the Researcher

In most quantitative studies, the researcher does not have a practical role in the research process itself. Instead, the researcher’s functions are usually virtually nonexistent (Cook-Sather, 2013; Kriz, Gummesson, & Quazi, 2014). However, in qualitative studies, the researcher will him or herself become an instrument of data collection (Cook-Sather, 2013; Kriz et al., 2014). This represents a distinct difference from the quantitative approach, which only describes the research count (Probst& Berenson, 2014). Quantitative research approaches do not explain the reasons for the count because they depend on inventories, questionnaires, and other mechanical forms of data collection, which do not incorporate human beings as instruments of data moderation (Dickson-Swift, James, Kippen, & Liamputtong, 2008). In qualitative research, the researcher’s main role is to ask why an issue manifests as it does. In this regard, Kim (2011), Cook-Sather (2013), and Kriz, Gummesson, and Quazi (2014) pointed out the importance that researchers isolate and define phenomena in ways that make sense to the research audience. These authors believed this process to be critical in qualitative studies. For example, in the context of this study, not only would the financial operations of public libraries be investigated, an understanding of the details surrounding why these operations are in place will also be explored.

For researchers to take up their roles or duties in the research process effectively, it is important that they should thoroughly understand the role of the human instrument in qualitative research (Stich et al., 2012). Here, they need to understand the biases, assumptions, and expectations that are associated with the researcher. In the context of this study, my role will be passive because the main technique involves interviewing a group of respondents, and complimentarily reviewing research documents surrounding the research phenomenon. However, because I am an employee of CCLS, my insider position will differ somewhat from the position of researchers who are outsiders of the system under study, or objective observers (Staller, 2013). By virtue of being an insider of the public library system, the research process is vulnerable to researcher bias. To mitigate this bias, I will eradicate all, biases, assumptions and predetermined ideas about the phenomenon to disengage myself from the research study and concentrate on data collection procedures. More so, I will not be interviewing my subordinates, but my library director, aformer library directors and assistant directors who are my superiors, including some senior colleagues. In essence, I am not in a coercive position or authority over the participants. Furthermore, I will make a conscious and consistent effort to keep researcher bias at bay and avoid any conflict of interest in the study by maintaining objectivity throughout the data collection process.

The dual data collection method will be used to deal with the weaknesses of the oral interviews by eliminating or decreasing biases (Maxwell, 2013). Utilizing documentary information will be geared at cross-validating data obtained from conducting the oral interviews (Noor, 2008). Information attained from existing documents, such as the public records and financial statements will be verified independently. This strategy will complement gaining a better perspective of the scope of the research topic. It will minimize the potential for overlooking different aspects of financial diversification, such as the legal considerations of financial diversification, and operational limitations of doing so, when formulating the research questions. As a control measure, this study will examine past surveys and interviews to learn the categories that are most popular with researchers and their respondents. Collectively, these measures will be aimed at minimizing researcher bias.

The interview structure will highlight different themes, intended to provide answers to the research questions posed for the study. To achieve credible findings, this study will includes an investigation of the participants’ views through probing, deep thinking, and further probing as a cyclic method of investigation. It will also contain the views of library supervisors regarding the adoption of a financial diversification strategy at CCLS. The big picture of the research process will be developed through the representation of many ideas and information garnered from different sources (Frost et al., 2010).

Methodology

Participant Selection

Interviews

For this study, a purposeful sampling technique will be used to get the views of seven library directors, four assistant library directors, three grant writers, and six branch managers. These numbers are carefully selected because there is a small list of former library directors, their assistants, branch managers and grant writers that have worked for CCLS. Although a small sample size of participants may be viewed as a limitation to this research, it is not uncommon for qualitative studies to collect data from a small sample, as long as the size is large enough to address the central research questions (Merriam, 2009). Patton (1990) believes that no rule of thumb defines how researchers should conduct their research. Therefore, they are free to choose whichever sample size they wish. However, research purpose, resource availability, and time determines the sample size for this study. As a result, the sample size will be limited to Clayton County Library System’s top administrative personnel. Consequently, the nature of the study — case study plays a crucial role in explaining the selected sample size. Miles & Huberman (1994) acknowledge this fact by saying, besides time constraints and resource availability, the nature of research plays a crucial role in determining a researcher’s sample.

Overall, a sample of 20 respondents who are directly involved with CCLS will be interviewed. It is hoped that, between 11 and 15 respondents will participate which forms a significant portion of the study population. The purposeful sampling method will be appropriate in selecting the respondents because it will allow harnessing the views of respondents who are very knowledgeable about the financial practices of CCLS. The researcher only selected 20 respondents to participate in the study because CCLS is a small library. However, if between 11 and 15 interviewees eventually participates in the study, their responses will still be adequate in understanding the financial practices of the library. Furthermore, the scope of the study is small and the research phenomenon is simple to understand.

In particular, the purpose of interviewing library directors is to have a deeper institutional understanding of how CCLS operates. The researcher will also gather the views of branch managers because of their vast knowledge in the branch operations of the public library. Last, grant writers will provide information surrounding the library’s funding sources. Furthermore, the views of the grant writers will reflect the perspectives of potential library sponsors and the investment expectations of the latter when they collaborate with public libraries (Frost et al., 2010). Their views will aid in answering the research question, which strives to understand the operational dynamics of CCLS. These respondents will give their views through face-to-face interviews (see appendix F).

Based on the insights from the aforementioned experts, the research study will adopt a small sample of 20 respondents. They will come from different departments of Clayton County Library System. However, there will be a bias that involves including more respondents from the directorate because they are more knowledgeable and involved about the research topic. Since the study will use a small sample size, there will be an in-depth analysis of the research problem. This strategy aligns with the qualitative research strategy because the latter supports an in-depth inquiry into the selected research topic (Maxwell, 1996).

Document Review

The purpose of using the document review process is to glean information that would fill research gaps emerging from the interviews. The documents will comprise of information from books, peer-reviewed journals and credible websites. The study will include information published within the last five years and exclude those that do not relate to public library funding.

The document review process aligns with the qualitative research design by providing a framework for developing probing questions for use in the qualitative research. Indeed, by analyzing past information, it will be possible to identify research gaps concerning the adoption of a financial diversification strategy in CCLS in the public library sector. These gaps will further inform the development of a follow up interview protocol. Besides this contribution, the document review process will also be instrumental in comparing the interview findings with existing research information about financial diversification in public libraries. This step will support the identification of areas of further analysis and redirect the researcher’s attention to areas of significant deviation between the interview findings and available knowledge about financial diversification. In this regard, the document review process will provide the framework for the development of this qualitative study.

Participant Characteristics

There will be no gender bias in selecting the research participants. However, there will be more female respondents in the study, compared to males because most CCLS staff members including top management staff are females. All the respondents will hold at least a bachelor’s degree in library science. Three of the potential respondents hold master’s degrees in business administration. Their educational qualifications will add to their practical knowledge of library management and finance. All the respondents participating in the study will have more than two years of experience in library administration. The three grant writers have accumulated more than 70 years of professional experience between them. These cumulative years of experience make them highly knowledgeable with respect to the research topic. Furthermore, public libraries where these potential administrators work, have been in operation for more than two decades. Table 2 shows the codes assigned to the respondents and their demographic characteristics in order to safeguard their anonymity.

Table 2: Characteristics of the Respondents in the Study

Designation Gender Years of Experience in the Public Library Sector Minimum
Educational Qualification
Type of Organization
M1 M 5 Master’s Degree Public Library
M2 M 25 Master’s Degree Public Library
F1 F 21 Master’s Degree Public Library
M3 M 6 Master’s Degree Public Library
F2 F 17 Master’s Degree Public Library
F3 F 10 Master’s Degree Grant Writing for public organizations
F4 F 30 Master’s Degree Grant Writing for public organizations
F5 F 5 Master’s Degree Public Library
F6 F 22 Master’s Degree Public Library
F7
M4
F8
F9
F10
F11
F12
F13
F14
F15
F16
F
M
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
F
33
12
5
4
11
10
9
2
2
7
7
Master’s Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Master’s Degree
Master’s Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Master’s Degree
Master’s Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Master’s Degree
Master’s Degree
Grant Writing for public organizations
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library
Public Library

Sampling Technique

This study will employ purposeful sampling technique to select the respondents because the participants possess the knowledge and information relevant to diversification of funding sources at CCLS. A sample size of twenty (20) participants will constitute the key-informants based on their education, expertise and experiences about funding public libraries as well as advocating alternative funding sources for other non-profit organizations. They will be CCLS library directors, assistant directors, CCLS branch managers and library grant writers with experiences ranging from five to thirty-three years within their various specializations.

The selection of the above respondents is premised upon having the necessary knowledge regarding diversification of funds and library sustainability. They can identify alternative financing sources for libraries very easily as well as rate the sustainability levels of these libraries. Suffice to say that library directors are also in a position to give information about people who could be good interview participants within the library systems. However, the purposeful sampling technique will rely on the researcher’s discretion to choose the research participants (Kriz et al., 2014). This requirement is important to the study because the opinions of library officials who are familiar with the administrative and financial operations of CCLS need to be obtained. The respondents will provide their views through interviews (see appendices E and F). For purposes of improving the reliability and validity of the responses obtained, the researcher will do a follow-up to further ascertain the views of the respondents. This step will be important in ensuring that the information obtained from the respondents will be correctly reflected in the findings. Furthermore, it will help to clarify misunderstandings of responses between the respondents and the researcher. This study will also include expert reviews – the views and perspectives gleaned from peer-reviewed sources of information and credible online sources because these sources of data are reliable (Kriz et al., 2014). The information obtained from these sources of information would act as control views, compared to the information obtained from the interviews. Areas of significant deviation would emerge if there are contradicting information from both sources of data, thereby giving an opportunity to investigate them (Siebart, 2005). Since this process mainly applies to case studies that investigate the same research phenomenon, this study would mostly include the views of other researchers who have conducted case studies that are similar to CCLS’ case. Similarly, as observed by Thatchenkery (2005), it is beneficial for researchers to experience the advantages of replication logic when they use multiple case studies. For the purpose of this study, experiences and comments from diverse participants who understand the theoretical framework for adopting a financial diversification framework will be compared, such as the Modern Portfolio Theory. This step would be contributory in improving the transferability of theoretical prepositions concerning financial diversification to the CCLS case study. Abrams (2010) supported this view, he also thought that high transferability of such study results should be a critical characteristic of doctoral dissertations.

Procedures for Contacting the Respondents

The respondents will give their views regarding the financial operations of the library and the legal and procedural requirements that govern their operations, concerning the proposed financial diversification strategy. In no particular order, the library directors and the assistants of Clayton County Library System will receive e-mail invitations to take part in the study (Appendix A). Suffice to say that I do have a professional relationship with the current CCLS director, assistant directors and branch managers, her predecessor and four former assistant directors. The steps taken to mitigate researcher bias when seeking the views of the respondents appeared in earlier sections of this chapter. Furthermore, all the library administrators and branch managers have expressed interest and indicated that they would make themselves available for one-on-one interviews should the study go forward. The grant writers accepted to participate in the study after an informal face-to-face meeting with them at a library conference.

Data Collection

Interviews. The views and perspectives of library directors, their assistants and branch managers will be obtained through unstructured interviews and open-ended questions that will be audio recorded. These will be one-time interviews, not exceeding sixty minutes. However, follow-up questions may be posed for further clarifications via phone calls. The participants’ consents will be sought first, and if granted, consent forms (Appendix B) will be signed and documented before proceeding with the interviews. The option to withdraw voluntarily without any negative consequence will be emphasized. During the interview, the respondents will be allowed to express themselves in their own way, without any inhibitions. The goals of this study require that the questions be open-ended so that the respondents can express themselves freely and provide as much information as they wish to volunteer. Although, a drawback of this method may be the difficultly to find consistency or themes in the public library administrators’ answers to the questions. Nonetheless, the study will involve the use of this interview technique; and leading questions will not be asked. Nevertheless to avoid deviation from the topic, participants will be steered back to the conversation regarding the topic in order to gain answers to the research questions. The biggest challenge associated with this technique is that it can become quite time-consuming. Particularly, time-consumed will be the recording and transcribing of the data. Similarly, because the interview questions will be open-ended, the data collection process may tend to be flexible as to the time dedicated.

Interview questions. The interview questions will be formulated in such a way as to elicit elaborate responses from the participants. The interview process will be divided into two parts: The first part will establish the demographic characteristics of the respondents and the positions they hold within the structure of public libraries. Important details about the respondents, such as their ages, gender and educational qualifications, types of position titles, and their experiences in these organizations will be investigated. The interview protocol will include the heading, the main research questions, and probes to follow key questions, transition messages for the interviewer, space for recording the interviewer’s comments, and a space for recording reflective notes (Appendices E and F). The research protocol would be instrumental in answering the research questions particularly the research question, which seeks to find out ways in which the leadership of Clayton County Library System can diversify funding. The same interview protocol will elicit information about the legal implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS. The table below shows how the interview protocol will make the appropriate connections.

Table 3:

Elements of Design

According to the table above, different elements of the interview protocol would contribute to understanding the research phenomenon as described in the second column. The interview questions will adopt a broader perspective of this analysis by simultaneously exploring the inflow of public funds from state authorities and the wider financial situation characterizing public libraries in the country. Sources of library funds for the public libraries administrated by the respondents will also be explored. In the same vein of analysis, the interview questions will explore how the library administrators use these funds. The last section of the interview process will analyze the adoption of a financial diversification strategy as a tool for improving the financial stability of public libraries. Respondents’ expressions on any challenge they believe might impede the adoption of a financial diversification strategy will not be restricted or, conversely, on any operational characteristics that could support easy adoption of the strategy. The last section of the interview questions will seek the respondents’ views regarding alternative sources of funding that could improve the financial position of the public libraries.

Participant inclusion criteria. Interviews will be the main data collection technique used in this study. The inclusion criteria for respondents is determined by the nature of the public institution (Clayton County Library System) referred to in this study as a representative sample of public libraries in America. Therefore, this case study will be symbolic. It will play a hero role by highlighting the financial operations and challenges experienced by America’s public libraries. Although some researchers take issue with sampled populations associated with case studies, few have bothered to investigate this issue further, Siebart (2005), the Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information (2014), and Yin (2015). Therefore, one key assumption in this study will be the assumed role of Clayton County Library System’s financial diversification strategy in solving the financial challenges that characterize America’s public libraries. The motivation for selecting the sample is the same as the motivation of other researchers when using the random sampling technique. This sample will provide a representative view with useful variations to outline areas of theoretical interest for the study. In the context of this study, a diversifying strategy that factors in the views of library administrators who have headed CCLS will be used. Similarly, the views of grant writers who will present alternative views from different points of understanding i.e., sponsor-based views regarding the topic of this study will be sought, as opposed to the views of library administrators who are the recipients of public funds.

Interview Location

Twenty participants will be interviewed in this study. All interviews will be conducted in a professional environment i.e., in the interviewee’s workplace or a mutually agreeable location. Only one grant writer has expressed a preference to be interviewed in a café because there are repair works underway in the interviewee’s office. Furthermore, this respondent believed that such an interview should take place in an unrestrained and relaxed atmosphere, as opposed to the high-pressure environment of the office. Efforts will be made to keep the atmosphere of all interviews comfortable for the respondents. Moreover, adequate time and opportunity for follow up with clarifying questions will be factored into the interview process.

Data Analysis Plan

For purposes of data analysis, the content analysis method in the document review process will be used. This technique will be appropriate for the study because it will differentiate between verbal and behavioral data, then separate and group similar inputs in the data analysis process (Aharony, 2012). Weick (1982) added that this technique allows researchers to categorize and summarize easily the volumes of information obtained from the respondents. With its different degrees of formalization, it will be easy to guarantee the re-elaboration of the items that will be analyzed in the study (Creamer & Ghoston, 2013). Researchers have used the content analysis method in several disciplines, including hermeneutics and mass communication (Finfgeld-Connett, 2014; Kriz et al., 2014). Other researchers have also used it for understanding media content and logic (Rice et al., 2014).

Content Analysis Process

The content analysis process involves the collection of data through interviews or questionnaires, data analysis, and data interpretation. The theoretical framework of the study will be applied to the central phenomenon under study, which is to explore how Clayton County Library System (CCLS) can diversify its funding sources to become financially sustainable by evaluating the feasibility and use of a financial diversification strategy. The main purpose of this evaluation will be to understand whether a financial diversification strategy would work in Clayton County Library System and if not, why not? The objective is to understand whether there are key institutional or structural differences that would impede or complement the adoption of the financial diversification strategy in the public library sector. The long-range goal of this evaluation will be to create a reliable body of knowledge regarding the general understanding of the effects of a financial diversification plan in the public service sector. Another distant objective of this study is to produce information that would lead to further empirical investigations regarding the adoption of a financial diversification strategy in the American public library sector.

Key issues to be considered during the content analysis method will be to explore the who, what, where, and when, related to the research questions. The content analysis method will help to answer key issues about the data gathered in the study. The first issue seeks to understand the type of information analyzed in the data analysis process. The second issue will investigate the definition of data obtained in the content analysis process. The third issue will produce a description of the sample from which the data were gathered. Based on these purposes, the content analysis method will also help readers to understand the context in which the data analysis process will take place. This analysis will give room to answer the fifth issue in the research: defining the boundaries of the data analysis process. Last, the content analysis process will help to explain the target of the inferences obtained throughout the research.

NVivo 10 software will be used for the analysis. This will entail the use words and phrases of the content analysis to answer the research questions. Based on this understanding, the qualitative content analysis will start with word frequencies and key-word frequencies. The content analysis method is mainly useful in analyzing the data obtained from the document review process. The content analysis method will be applied on two levels: The first level will describe the information obtained from the respondents; the second level the latent level of analysis will outline the inferred meanings of the information supplied. To improve the reliability of the content analysis, a statistical measure of reliability will be used. This measure will also be used to ascertain the reliability and correspondence among the different codes that emerge from the research. The application of the content analysis method will be instrumental in sorting out the huge volumes of literature obtained in the study. This method will be pivotal in filling knowledge gaps that will emerge during the collection of data from the interviews. It will also be instrumental in answering the research questions because they will focus on two main issues – the operational dynamics of CCLS and the legal implications of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS. A thematic analysis will help to answer these research questions by sorting out the literature obtained into two themes – legal issues and operational issues. Therefore, the findings obtained from the document review process will answer the research questions on these two fronts.

Issues of Trustworthiness

In qualitative research, researchers need to take extra care to conduct an ethical study (Tsoka-Gwegweni & Wassenaar, 2014). To fulfill this requirement, participants will be invited to give their views regarding the findings reported in the study. More specifically, they will be invited to give their views regarding data interpretation because it will be important to ascertain that the findings presented in the study accurately reflects their views (Finfgeld-Connett, 2014; Kriz et al., 2014). Principal issues that can surface during data analysis involve authenticity, coherence, and permeability. Issues of trustworthiness of the respondents will be evaluated by coding the research information (Woodby, Williams, Wittich, & Burgio, 2011). A journal of reflections regarding the data collection process will be maintained to help with reviewing the authenticity of the information obtained from the respondents.

While it is important to preserve the trustworthiness of the information obtained, it is equally important to review the trustworthiness of the research participants. As already discussed, library administrators and grant writers will be the main respondents in this study. Their trustworthiness will be demonstrated through transparency when they give their financial reports for review and when they explain the financial challenges affecting their organizations backed up by operational reports of audited financial reports. Furthermore, they will provide all necessary documents needed to complete the study. The transparency of the administrators will be based on the transparency associated with public organizations in America. For example, section 501 (c) of the Public Disclosure Act requires public service organizations to reveal their financial information to the public (IRS, 2010). Therefore, based on the transparency required of public institutions, most of the financial data and administrative structures associated with the public libraries will be open to scrutiny. This is also an ethical requirement for this study because understanding how public libraries use their money is an ethical principle for doctoral research, considering that these organizations receive most of their funding from public sources. Transparency is among the qualities required in case study research and named in the first place by Tracy (2010) among other attributes needed, namely, “transparency, sincerity, credibility, respect, and ethics” (p. 839). Because some of the opinions that may be expressed by the library directors could surpass the scope outlined in existing legal statutes, the identities of the library administrators and grant writers participating in this study, as well as their places of employment, will be concealed, except for the library administrator of the Clayton County Library System. The aim of taking this step is to minimize the risk of identification. This step is important because the nature of this case study requires respondents to give their personal views, thus confidentiality is important for all parties concerned. Issues of confidentiality will be further addressed at a later point in time. However, it is important to mention that confidentiality concerns will be discussed with the respondents before they take part in the study. As a result, the respondents will know that they have the right to withdraw from the study if they feel the need to do so without any restraints. Ndebele et al. (2014) indicated that this is an important requirement in research because it is difficult for researchers to control the direction of the data collection process during interviews.

Ethical Procedures

Ethics is not only a requirement for qualitative research studies, but also a goal of research authors (Stanford Center, 2014). In the same vein, Czymoniewicz-Klippel, Brijnath, and Crockett (2010) specified that “avoiding fabrication, fraud, omission, and contrivance make up procedural ethics” (p. 332), which is vital for this research. Research participants are the main focus regarding the ethical obligations required of researchers; therefore, respect for the wishes of the research participants should be a top priority of researchers (Stanford Center, 2014). Houghton, Casey, Shaw, and Murphy (2010) added that compliance with ethical obligations should continue even after the conclusion of a study.

Ethical behaviors in research usually revolve around three key issues: The first issue is the responsibility of the researcher to do no harm (Loue, 2014). The second responsibility requires researchers to do what is right, and the third responsibility requires researchers to make sure that the participants give their informed consent to participate in the study. In this regard, it is important for research studies to produce findings that are beyond reproach (Houghton et al., 2010). Issues of trustworthiness are particularly important in qualitative research studies because the latter rely on human subjects. The importance of this issue emerged in 1906 when the Food and Drugs Administration Act outlined a new set of ethical behaviors that should guide the conduct of researchers when interacting with human subjects (IRS, 2010). In line with this need, the Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information (2014) stated that researchers should make sure that their participants are unharmed by their studies. Similarly, researchers have to make sure that they respect the privacy of the participants and that their participation is based on informed consent. However, many qualitative research studies do not have standards that govern the activities of researchers when using human subjects (Yu, Abdullah, & Saat, 2014). In doctoral research studies, researchers often rely on review boards to determine what the researcher can or cannot do (Stanford Center, 2014). Before commencing this research project, the approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Walden University will be obtained. The approval process requires the submissions of a detailed research proposal that outlines key ethical procedures for the treatment of the research participants (McMurphy, Lewis, & Boulos, 2013). The treatment of human participants in this study will comply with key ethical principles for qualitative research, including the following tenets:

  • Do no harm. The principle to do no harm is usually the cornerstone of any research study with human participants (Silverman, Edwards, Shamoo, & Matar, 2013). Here, research participants should have a reasonable expectation that they will experience no harm by participating in the study (Silverman et al., 2013). This will be the guiding principle of the proposed study. For example, the study requires the participants to reveal information about the financial operations of their libraries and explain their views regarding how a financial diversification strategy could work in the public library sector in addition to associated challenges. Every effort will be made to report the respondents’ views in a manner that will not be injurious to the participants. Also, the participants will be guaranteed that the information obtained from them will not result in reprimands in their workplaces. To do so, the findings will be reported in a manner that allows the respondents to remain anonymous.
  • Privacy and anonymity. Participants giving their views in this study will be granted some reasonable level of privacy before they give their views on the research topic. To meet this expectation, there will be no deliberate mention of the participants’ names in writing, or other forms of communication. Besides, the their privacy will be respected. Participants in this study will be assured that their identities will not be revealed either before, during, or after completion of the study. The privacy of the participants will be most important in this research because it will be difficult to uphold institutional privacy due to the nature of this study as a case study (Guillemin, Gillam, Rosenthal, & Bolitho, 2012). Since different kinds of respondents will be consulted for this study, it may be difficult to conceal the identity of some prominent participants such as the library administrator of the Clayton County Library System. In this case, written consent and approval to reveal the identity of this respondent will be sought and the position this individual holds in the organization, otherwise it will be kept anonymous.
  • Confidentiality. Confidentiality is an important concept in research studies involving human participants because most respondents have reasonable expectations that the researcher will treat the information they provide confidentially (Bowtell, Sawyer, Aroni, Green, & Duncan, 2013). In this regard, they expect that the researcher will not reveal the information provided to other people who have no need to know such feedback (Bowtell et al., 2013; Stanford Center, 2014). It is important to observe confidentiality, especially when researchers come across information that is potentially dangerous for the researcher and other affected persons (Bowtell et al., 2013; Stanford Center, 2014). In the course of this study, many personal details about the research participants will be learned; therefore, maintaining confidentiality will be an important issue to be observed in this study.
  • Informed consent. The participants taking part in this study will do so voluntarily. Informed consent is an important ethical requirement for this study because the research is a case study of Clayton County Library System, and the respondents who work in the public library implicitly will feel the need to participate in the study. Before allowing any respondent to take part in this study, sufficient information about the study will be provided with the emphasis that participation is entirely voluntary. This information will appear in the informed consent form (Appendix B). All the respondents must be willing to provide information regarding the research questions. Despite my existing relationship with the management and staff of the Clayton County Library System, concerted and conscious efforts will be made to keep researcher bias at bay and avoid any conflict of interest in the study by maintaining objectivity throughout the data collection process.

Ethical concerns related to recruitment materials

Selecting participants for a research project requires some key strategies. As a result, purposeful sampling will be employed to recruit the research participants. Before soliciting respondents for an interview, an approval will be sought from the IRB of Walden University. The most basic ethical principle to be followed in this study will be the protection of the participants’ privacy and confidentiality (Czymoniewicz-Klippel et al., 2010). To safeguard the research information, I will encrypt the data, store them in a locked cabinet, and have backup copies passworded in external hard drives for the duration of the research, and for a period that will not to exceed five years, after which the information will be shredded. I will be the only person that will have access to the information.

Summary

This chapter presents the research methods to be used in this qualitative case study, including the data collection process through face-to-face interviews and document analysis. These double data collection technique is synonymous with case studies. The chapter also describes the population, the sample, and the sampling strategy relying on the purposive sampling technique. Also discussed was the content analysis method to be used in evaluating the information obtained during the document review process. Finally, issues of ethics and trustworthiness were presented and how they will be observed and implemented in the study. The results of the study will be reported in a future chapter, and direct quotations of the information supplied by the respondents will be included. Conclusions will be drawn based on the findings, and recommendations will be offered for practical application and further research on the topic.

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Appendix A

Invitation Letter to Participants

  • Library Director___________
  • Address_________________

Dear Library Director,

The purpose of this letter is to invite your participation in a doctoral research study titled “Diversifying Funds to Enhance Financial Sustainability of a County Library.” The study is aimed at exploring how Clayton County Library System (CCLS) can diversify its funding sources to become financially sustainable. The intent is to use the findings from the study to provide recommendations that will provide useful information and data to policy makers, library administrators, and other stakeholders who are seeking ways to sustain public library funding. Ultimately, your participation will contribute to the body of knowledge available to future organizational leaders facing eras of public library funding challenges.

As a matter of introduction, I am the Managing Branch Librarian of the Morrow Branch of the Clayton County Library System, Jonesboro, GA. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. program in Public Policy and Administration at Walden University with a concentration in Public Management and Leadership, a program under the direction of Dr. XXXX. This study will fulfill my dissertation requirement within this program. Dr. XXXX serves as my chair for this study, and Dr. XXXXX and Dr. XXXXXXX are participating on my committee.

The study proposed is qualitative in nature and will require your participation in one tape recorded interview anticipated to last no longer than one hour and sharing of organizational budget or any relevant documents. This interview will be scheduled at your convenience and will be held at your office or any other mutually agreeable location. Follow-up interviews via telephone may be necessary for clarification, and I would appreciate your review of draft conclusions to ensure the validity of the study. Your participation is completely voluntary and you may withdraw from the study at any time. However, I want you to know that if the number of participants falls below a certain number, the value of the study results may be compromised. Your confidentiality and the confidentiality of your organization are assured. It would be my desire to schedule our interview sometime during the month of October 2015.

I would value your participation and will contact your office next week via telephone to discuss this further and answer any questions you may have. However, if you have any questions or concern before then, please feel free to contact me by my email XXXXXXXX or on XXXXXXX. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXXX

Doctoral Student

Appendix B

Consent Form

You are invited to take part in a research study of diversifying funds to enhance financial sustainability of a county library. The researcher is inviting library directors / policy makers, library branch managers, and library grant writers to be in the study. This form is part of a process called “informed consent” to allow you to understand this study before deciding whether to take part.

This study is being conducted by a researcher named XXXXXXXXXX, who is a doctoral student at Walden University. You may already know the researcher as the Managing Branch Librarian of the Morrow Branch of Clayton County Library System, Jonesboro, GA., but this study is separate from that role.

Background Information

The purpose of this research study is to explore how the Clayton County Library System (CCLS) can diversify its funding sources to become financially sustainable.

Procedures

If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to:

  • Be interviewed for approximately sixty (60) minutes, the interview will be audio recorded
  • Provide the organization’s budget for the current fiscal year or other relevant documents at the time of interview
  • Review the completed transcripts of the interview

Here are some sample questions:

  • What financial challenges does CCLS encounter?
  • How have these challenges affected the library?
  • In what ways can leadership of Clayton County Library System diversify funding?
  • In what ways would the legal framework of public service operations support or impede the implementation of a financial diversification strategy at CCLS?

Voluntary Nature of the Study

This study is voluntary. Everyone will respect your decision of whether or not you choose to be in the study. No one at Clayton County Library System will treat you differently if you decide not to be in the study. If you decide to join the study now, you can still change your mind later. You may stop at any time.

Risks and Benefits of Being in the Study

Being in this type of study involves some risk of the minor discomforts that can be encountered in daily life, such as stress of the inconvenience of having the researcher in your place of work for one hour. Being in this study would not pose risk to your safety or wellbeing. The study is your opportunity to create increased awareness about financial challenges experienced by public libraries in the region, and encourage policy makers to create local solutions for managing such problems.

Payment

There is no payment for participation in this study

Privacy

Any information you provide will be kept confidential. The researcher will not use your personal information for any purposes outside of this research project. In addition, the researcher will not include your name or anything else that could identify you in the study reports. Data will be kept secure by storing audio tapes, transcripts and USB Flash Drives in a locked cabinet. In addition, I will store all electronic copies of data and recordings in a password-protected computer that only I have access. Data will be kept for a period of at least 5 years, as required by the university.

Contacts and Questions

You may ask any questions you have now. On the other hand, if you have questions later, you may contact the researcher via XXXXXXX@waldenu.edu or XXXXXXX. If you want to talk privately about your rights as a participant, you can call Dr. Leilani Endicott. She is the Walden University representative who can discuss this with you. Her phone number is 612-312-1210. Walden University’s approval number for this study is IRB will enter approval number here and it expires on IRB will enter expiration date.

Statement of Consent

I have read the above information and I feel I understand the study well enough to make a decision about my involvement. By signing below, replying to this email with the words, “I consent,” I understand that I am agreeing to the terms described above.

Printed Name of Participant
Date of consent
Participant’s Signature
Researcher’s Signature

Appendix C

[Letterhead of Clayton County Library System]

  • XXXXXXXXX
  • P. O. Box XXXXXX
  • Jonesboro, GA 3XXXXXX
  • October 10, 2015

Dear XXXXXXXXXX,

Based on my review of your research proposal, I give permission for you to conduct the study entitled “Diversifying Funds to Enhance Financial Sustainability of a County Library” within Clayton County Library System, Jonesboro, GA. As part of your data collection activities, I authorize you to contact our Administrative Assistant to schedule an appointment with the undersigned for an interview session. The researcher will communicate to the Director a transcript of their interview to ensure that their position was appropriately captured. The results of the study will be disseminated to the research participant via email. Suffice to say that my participation will be voluntary and at my own discretion.

We understand that our organization’s responsibilities include facilitating access to the Library Director as well as providing a conducive environment for the conduct of interview session for a period not more than sixty minutes. However, we reserve the right to withdraw from the study at any time if our circumstances change.

I confirm that I am authorized to approve research in this setting and that this plan complies with the organization’s policies.

I understand that the data collected will remain entirely confidential and may not be provided to anyone outside of the student’s supervising faculty/staff without permission from the Walden University IRB.

We look forward to working with you, and please consider this communication as our Letter of Cooperation.

Sincerely,

Ms. Library Director

Library Director

Appendix D

Certificate of Completion

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Extramural Research certifies that XXXXXXXXXXXsuccessfully completed the NIH Web-based training course “Protecting Human Research Participants”.

Date of completion: 06/03/2013

Certification Number: XXXXXXX

Appendix E

Interview Protocol Form

(For Library Directors, Assistant Library Directors and Branch Managers)

Project: Diversifying funds to achieve financial stability at CCLS

Date ___________________________

Time ___________________________

Location ________________________

Interviewer ______________________

Interviewee ______________________

Release form signed? ____

Notes to interviewee

Thank you for your participation. I believe your input will be valuable to this research and in helping grow all of our professional practice.

  • Confidentiality of responses is guaranteed
  • Approximate length of interview: 30 minutes, four major questions

Purpose of research: To provide a thorough understanding of the unique structural, legal, and operational dynamics associated with adopting a financial diversification strategy in Clayton County Library System and explore what would support or, conversely, hinder this strategy:

  1. What structural challenges does the institution face?
  2. What are the legal challenges to transfer beyond the profit-making sector?
  3. What factors of the operational environment are important?

Take me back through the history in your career that brought you to this institute.

  • What types of professional development have you previously experienced?
  • What is your background working with CCLS?
  • What is an area of strength or expertise for you in public library financial management?

Response from Interviewee

Reflection by Interviewer:

  • Can you describe some details about the structural practices of CCLS that would either support or prevent the adoption of a financial diversification strategy?
  • What about your gains as a library manager/library assistant/branch manager?
  • Is financial diversification contrary to your expectations regarding how the library should work?
  • What is your previous experience in the current financial environment? What impact do you think the structural practices of the library have on these experiences?
  • Can you walk me through the operational dynamics of CCLS that would affect the adoption of a financial diversification strategy at CCLS?
  • Which operational dynamics do you think are the most important to consider? Why?
  • How do you think the library could overcome these operational hurdles, if any?
  • What legal factors do you think would hinder the adoption of a financial diversification plan at CCLS?
  • How?

Here is a list of potential factors that may help you…

  • What are the legal guidelines that govern the management of financial practices at CCLS?
  • What activities give you the most success in abiding by these laws? Why?
  • Are there ways that the library could overcome the legal hurdles of adopting a financial diversification strategy at CCLS, if any?

Thank you to interviewee

    • reassure confidentiality
    • ask permission to follow-up ______

Appendix F

Interview Questions for Grant Writers

Demographic Information

  • DQ 1: Please state your name
  • DQ 2: What is your gender?
  • DQ 3: What is your age?
  • DQ 4: What is your highest education qualification?
  • RQ 1: What financial challenges in your opinion affect CCLS?
  • RQ 2: What funding opportunities are there for CCLS?
  • RQ 3: What do you think sponsors are looking for when making decisions to fund CCLS?
  • RQ 4: What operational and structural issues should CCLS consider before adopting the financial diversification strategy?
  • RQ 5: In what ways would the legal framework governing CCLS’s operations support or impede the implementation of a financial diversification strategy?

Document Analysis Protocol

Change Record – This should be a list or table summarizing the main updates and changes embodied in each version of the protocol and (where appropriate), the reasons for these.

Background:

  • explain why there is a need for a study on this topic
  • specify the main research question being addressed by this study
  • specify any additional research questions that will be addressed
  • if extending previous research on the topic, explain why a new study is needed

Search Strategy:

  • specify and justify basic strategy: manual search, automated search, or mixed
  • for automated searches, specify search terms and compounds of these (and record results of any prototyping of the search strings)
  • for automated searches, identify resources to be used (digital libraries and search engines)

Selection Criteria:

  • identify the inclusion criteria for primary studies
  • identify the exclusion criteria
  • define how selection will be undertaken (roles of analysts)
  • define how agreement among analysts will be evaluated e) define how any differences between analysts will be resolved

Study Quality Assessment:

  • specify the quality checklists to be used
  • specify how the checklist will be evaluated
  • define how agreement among data extractors will be evaluated
  • define how any differences between data extractors will be resolved
  • identify the procedures to use for applying the checklists (e.g. details inclusion/ exclusion; partitioning the primary studies during aggregation or meta-analysis; explaining the results of primary studies)

Data Extraction:

  • design data extraction form (and check via a dry run)
  • specify the strategy for extracting the data and the form (paper, on-line etc.)
  • identify how the data extraction process is to be undertaken and validated, particularly any data that require numerical calculations, or are subjective

Synthesis – assess the threats to validity (construct, internal, external), particularly constraints on the search process and deviations from standard practice.

Study Limitations – analyzing validity issues including potential conflicts of interest.

Reporting – Identify relationship to other studies.

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