Winter 2001

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

An Interview with Mary Jo Ketchum

by Rebekkah Smith, Coordinator of Member Information, Mid-Hudson Library System

Winter 2001 issue of Trustee

Serving as president of the NYSALB for three years, Ms. Mary Jo Ketchum is in her ninth and final year of service on that board of directors. She has taken time out of a very busy schedule to contribute to the fundraising forum Project's Forum on Trustees & Fundraising.


To read more of her interview (click here) or go to:


RS: Why did you become (and stay on as) a library trustee?


MJK:  How strikingly simple and basic to all fund raising efforts is the answer to that question: Someone asked me!


Of course, the real key to becoming a member of the Elma Library Board of Trustees was having an observant librarian. She noted the regular trooping of my family -- four little boys -- in our tow each Friday night, stocking up for the weekend, and concluded that we had an abiding interest in the importance of reading, and that it would probably last for a while! When her board asked for recommendations, she offered my name.


The president of the Board called, with no previous acquaintance to pave the way. I was truly honored to receive the invitation. I have continued for 22 years because I have felt needed, that my efforts have made a difference. At the same time, I cannot fail to acknowledge the incredible number of opportunities for learning and sharing that have come my way as a result of being a trustee. There is some valid argument for term limitations, but I am grateful that there are none in Elma.


RS: Do public library trustees have a responsibility to fundraise for their library?


MJK: Let me begin by affirming the four primary roles of trustees:

               -fiduciary responsibility for their library;

               -formation of policies;

               -advocacy for libraries;

               -hiring of the director.


(These roles are further defined in the TRUSTEE



A couple of distinctions are necessary before proceeding: (A) operating funds, vs. supplementary income/assets; and, (B) the means to obtain them, i.e., developing operating funding

sources, and supplementary fund-raising. While it is often necessary for trustees to develop funding sources, it is always important for trustees to be pro-active in talking about their libraries to the people in their community. This is marketing, or advocacy, and the return will be the eventual support for funding, be it in a vote, or by a grant from the local service organization, or a private donor. Raise awareness before attempting to raise funds! 


As for the responsibility to work directly to raise funds, it depends on the type of library they serve. In our system the operating funds come from the county property tax. Supplemental dollars for extras come from gifts and the sale of discarded or donated reading materials and software. Many libraries are completely independent of outside funding, and must continually scrape for operating funds. In these cases, the burden is definitely on the shoulders of the trustees.

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