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Alternative Revenue Streams Survey Results

Revenue Source Flash Poll Graphics

In December 2018, ULC surveyed our membership in order to gauge what libraries are doing to diversify their funding sources. The below summary of survey responses provides insight into the different kinds of revenue streams libraries are implementing today, the benefits of those funding sources and the potential obstacles libraries may face when looking to establish new revenue channels.

Most libraries are finding ways to diversify revenue streams

We found that over 90 percent of respondents are diversifying their revenue sources outside of overdue materials fines. Additionally, most libraries that are not currently diversifying their revenue sources indicated that they would consider doing so.

Respondents identified that they currently utilize the following revenue sources in addition to overdue materials fines:

Additional Revenue Sources

Most libraries are ready to commit staff time and resources to help launch alternative revenue streams

While most responding libraries indicated that they are not able to contribute financially to the start up or maintenance costs of creating an alternative revenue stream, they are currently able to allocate staff time and resources. This is likely due to the same budget constraints that are driving them to seek alternative revenue streams.

Respondents identified that they are equipped to handle the costs associated with the following possible new revenue streams:

Additional Revenue Sources

Libraries have varied reasons to diversify revenue streams

Our survey found that there are many reasons why a library would consider diversifying revenue streams, but most of them boil down to one simple fact: money is tight, and libraries want to be prepared for leaner times.

However, some libraries are doing so because they wish to increase or enhance services, eliminate overdue fines and become more flexible in how they spend their money.

We asked survey respondents: Has your library done any research or forecasting on the potential costs, revenue generation or ROI of the introduction of new revenue streams? Here's how they responded:

Additional Revenue Sources

Who took this survey?

ULC surveys are sent to executive staff of our member libraries, primarily to directors and deputy directors. We received 67 responses to this survey.

For questions about this post please contact Curtis Rogers at crogers@urbanlibraries.org.