Guest Blogger

Budget Tips for the New Manager

So you’ve landed your dream job–congratulations! It won’t be long before you discover that there will be dozens of projects and materials vying for your funds. Here’s a handy tip sheet that may help you get started:

1.      Set your priorities–and make sure to consider the administration’s priorities for the department as well.

2.      You should have separate budgets for collection development and programming.

3.      Depending on your organization’s structure, supplies, equipment, and continuing education/travel may or may not be included in your budget. Ask whether you have a copying and printing budget.

4.      Once you know what your budget encompasses, you can start planning.

a.       What kinds of programs does your department offer or do you want to offer? Do you have materials (such as flannel boards, a CD player, etc.) for use in those programs?

b.      What do you need for your summer reading program? Does your state participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program? If so, you can purchase professional full-color materials that will please your patrons and save you time and money.

5.      Keep track of everything you order/spend. A spreadsheet is easily created and can be as basic or detailed as desired. I suggest that you include the following:

a.       Date ordered

b.      Purchase order number

c.       Supplier name

d.      Estimated amount

e.       Invoice number

f.        Actual total cost

g.       Notes (this can include type of item ordered, number of items ordered, etc.)

The above information will enable you to track purchases and reference delivery/non-delivery

6.      For a collection development budget, you may want a separate spreadsheet that is divided into separate pages for each area of the collection. For example, your 2013 collection development spreadsheet might have separate pages for chapter books, picture books, audio books, DVDs, music CDs, ebooks, nonfiction by Dewey, games, and magazines. Each of those pages could then have columns set up as described above.

a.       Are your materials processed in-house? If not, ask what the unit cost for processing is, and include that on your spreadsheet pages, either as a separate column or added into the estimated amount.

b.      Will you need to devote some of your budget to replacement parts (primarily for audio books, especially read-along picture books)? Decide whether that is a separate budget item or comes out of the specific collection area.

c.       If you’ve never ordered materials before, inquire about whether your library purchases from specific vendors, such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram Book Company. They may also purchase directly from publishers or have a purchasing agreement with Amazon. If so, inquire about discounts and shipping costs; these will affect your expenditures.

d.      Check into whether your library belongs to a state or local cooperative that may afford you group pricing and/or discounts.

7.      Review your predecessor’s budget records. Do they make sense to you? Is there anything missing? You may not need to start from scratch but instead tweak the structure accordingly.

8.      Learn all that you can from your library’s financial manager/CFO. The CFO can provide you with their expectations, i.e., what they need from you for their records, and advice about what purchases and expenses belong in your budget.


Our guest blogger today is Kate Capps, who wrote this piece as a member of the Managing Children’s Services Committee. Kate is a Children’s Librarian & School Liaison at the Olathe Indian Creek Branch Library in Olathe, Kansas.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at

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