From Awareness to Funding Report

De Rosa, C. and J. Johnson. From Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America, A Report to the OCLC Membership. Online Computer Library Center, Inc., Dublin, Ohio. (Reviewed by George Morse, Faculty Associate, University of Maine and Professor Emeritus of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota)

This report explores what type of library users tend to support funding for libraries and the reasons they do.

Purpose of Study

The authors explore the following idea in this project:

“U.S. public libraries are facing marketing and advocacy challenges that have been faced by other ‘super brands.’ Lessons learned and successes achieved can be applied to increase library funding. Utilizing marketing and advocacy techniques targeted to the right community segments with the right messages and community programs, we can improve the state of public library funding.” (From Awareness to Funding, p. viii)


Data was initially collected from a sample of 8,000 adults in the US cities of less than 200,000 and followed by a longer on-line survey of nearly 2,000.  The sample size is adequate and was weighted to be representative of voting adults from age 16 to 69.

Chapter 1: From Awareness to Funding

This chapter provides basic facts on why the study is needed.

Chapter 2: Who are the Library’s Financial Supporters?

This chapter describes the major voting segments and the percentage of each segment which will definitely vote “YES” for funding libraries. These results hold some surprises on which groups are most likely to support library votes, capital campaigns, or general funding issues.

Chapter 3: Elected Officials and Library Funding

This chapter reports on a very small sample of elected officials. While thought-provoking, conclusions from this data should be formed with care. However, if you are an M.S. candidate looking for hypotheses to test for your thesis, this is a rich source.

Chapter 4: Library Funding Support is an Attitude, Not a Demographic

If there is only time to read one chapter, this would be the one I recommend. The chapter overview is:

“Library funding behavior is driven by attitudes and beliefs, not by demographics. Voters’ perceptions of the role the library plays in their lives and in their communities are more important determinants of their willingness to increase funding than their age, gender, race, political affiliation, life stage or income level. The more that can be learned about library perceptions, the better the chances of constructing a successful library support campaign to improve library funding.” (From Awareness to Funding, p. 4-1).