The topic of defending your teen services budget will be part of a YALSA echat on February 3. Stay tuned for more information about the chat on the blog. For now, here’s some thoughts to get started on the topic.

Defending your budget may presume that you have one. However, the suggestions that follow will look a bit at building the groundwork for one in the first place as well as defending it once you have been given it.

These days, no budget-even for collection development-seems to be immune from taking cuts. Always being proactive and protective of whatever budget it is you manage no matter what the circumstances is just good planning.

1. Be familiar with developmental assets for teens.
Those who make decisions about the budget might not understand why there has to be something separate for children and teens. The Search Institute’s assets is a great foundation for giving a reason why funding should be focused on programs and services for teens.

2. Relate the funding to your library’s strategic plan and community goals.
Yes the needs of YAs are different but we need to be united in meeting the goals of the library and the community such as schools, through funding. Aligning your budget goals with what is important to the stakeholders shows that you can make a difference through serving teens at the library.

3. Tell your story and have teens tell theirs.
Telling stories about how we’re serving teens and having them tell it themselves is vital to showing how the funding is making a difference. Sure we keep stats in the form of hashmarks but stories tell the real deal. Telling how you made a difference in the life of a teen will go a long way to show that you’re spending the money wisely.

4. Spend the money that you ask for.
There’s nothing that looks worse than having a ton of leftover money that you couldn’t find reason to spend after being given the funding. YALSA members are tremendous resources for ideas. Ask if you need help generating some.

5. Invest in programs with some longevity
Programs such as video gaming for example, might be a lot to pay for at the outset. But the funding will stretch for many more times than just a one shot workshop. As another example, my library has developed program kits that circulate to staff at the branches. Programs are developed within the kit and the materials can be used repeatedly or replenished when needed.

6. Apply for grants.
Applying for grants will show your library that you’re actively looking for funding. Sometimes the success of a grant funded program can develop into something the library might consider funding on a regular basis when the grant runs out.

7. Don’t be afraid to start out small.
We might have to take baby steps to grow our successes which will hopefully in turn increase our need for funding. While it might feel disappointing to scale back, sometimes the most creative and innovative ideas start with little to no funds.

Please feel free to share your own ideas and successes for how you defend the YA budget at your library.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

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