Small Tribe Librarian: Making the Most of Free Resources

At a small, rural library with no paid staff, one person (me) is in charge of all library operations: collection development, program implementation and marketing. I make use of as many free resources as I can to keep our library relevant.

Small Tribe Librarian: Making the Most of Free Resources

FREE! Collaborating for success

Without funding for a full-time librarian, most of our library events are collaborative. Tapping established partners — like the tribe’s service departments and outside agencies — is essential to sustaining our small library’s programming. Any organization with goals similar to the library’s is a potential partner, and pooled resources can make a big impact.

Where to look:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • Government service providers
  • Granting agencies

For example, my library is planning a back-to-school event with the tribe’s education committee, culture department and local grant agency. The education committee distributes gift cards each year to help families purchase school supplies. This year, we are creating an event at which families can pick up their gift cards as well as learn about library services, obtain solar eclipse glasses, participate in a diversity celebration, learn Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’ Wee-ya’ (Tolowa language) and socialize. Thanks to a small grant, we will provide our families with snacks and pocket-sized hand sanitizers.

FREE! Learning

Just because a webinar isn’t specific to libraries doesn’t mean its content doesn’t apply to you. If you’re looking for management tips, try management websites. If you’re looking for social media best practices, search for social media tool sites. Brands want you to use their products; even if they are trying to sell you something, they still put out useful information. And of course, YouTube contains more how-to videos than you can possibly imagine.

My favorites:

FREE! Marketing and design

I draw my marketing and design ideas from looking at what is already out there and picking out what I like, or what I am able to do with my resources. There are many free tools with which you can create visual content.

My favorites: 

FREE! Sources of inspiration

Because my tribe’s aboriginal territory crosses two states, I joined the email lists of both the California and Oregon state library associations. These email lists are packed full of program ideas, brainstorming, news and grant resources. I don’t even need to be a member to be on the distribution lists. Here are other distribution lists, newsletter, communities and websites where you might find inspiration.

Where to look: