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Library fundraising in Pakistan
Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Punjab,
Department of Special Education, University of the Punjab, Lahore,
Syed Jalaluddin Haider
Department of Library and Information Science, University of Karachi,
Purpose – To survey fundraising activities of government sector libraries in Pakistan.
Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire survey of randomly selected 100 large
university, college, public and special libraries of Pakistan is conducted.
Findings – The review of literature reveals that no formal survey of such activities was carried out
before. However, general library literature in the country mentions the examples of donations and gifts
received in libraries. Data collected through survey show that very few libraries are involved in
fundraising activities. Signiﬁcant donations are given by foundations, international agencies and some
individuals. The reasons for non-engagement of most of the libraries in such activities are shortage of
staff and parent organizations’ involvement through other ofﬁces. Most of the libraries have no future
plans for fundraising.
Research limitations/implications – The survey only focuses on large libraries in the public
sector. Small libraries, school libraries and private sector libraries are not covered.
Practical implications – This is the ﬁrst paper on this topic in Pakistan. It will help LIS decision
makers plan for fundraising activities in libraries.
Originality/value – This paper presents a comprehensive literature review on fundraising in
Pakistan. It is the ﬁrst survey of such activities in this country. The experiences shared by libraries
can be helpful for other developing countries.
Keywords Fundraising, Libraries, Pakistan
Paper type Research paper
The environment in which libraries operate today has changed in many ways. In
addition to the traditional function of libraries to provide a safe place for the
accumulated knowledge of humans libraries also have to play the role of a modern
information center. Scholarly communication has gone through some major changes
because of the development of communication networks, technology-based forms of
knowledge, increased production of scholarly information, and the capacity of libraries
to deliver and preserve the last century’s knowledge that was primarily printed on
paper. The electronic library is fast approaching. Libraries, throughout the globe, are
faced not only with the rapid growth rate of information, but also with continued
increases in costs of materials and services which most often exceed the rate of
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 16 December 2004
Revised 21 March 2005
Accepted 1 April 2005
Vol. 26 No. 8/9, 2005
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
inﬂation. Meeting these needs demands additional resources that appear not to be
available from traditional sources.
Private support for libraries is more important in Pakistan where libraries in the
government sector have never been funded adequately. Causes of poor library funding
in Pakistan include overall poor economy of the country and lack of interest of the
government in development of libraries. Poor funding has not only badly affected the
quality of library services, but also has made them less attractive place for readers. It
has lost its potential for viable marketing. Most devastating effects include inadequate
and poor collection, cancellation of periodical subscriptions, less space, reduction in
library opening hours, closure of libraries, staff cuts, conservation problems, lack of
proper organization of material, and poor standard of service.
In the past, Pakistani libraries have obtained funds, although not to a greater extent,
from alternative sources. They have enjoyed private funding mostly in the form of
personal collections. Foreign governments, non-government organizations and
international organizations also supported libraries in various projects. Some of
them include the United Nations, Unesco, the World Health Organization (WHO), the
United States Information Service (USIS), the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Colombo Plan, the
Asia Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the United States Educational Foundation, the
British Council, the United States Agency for International Development (US-AID),
Netherlands Library Development Project (NLDP), Library of Congress and the library
associations of England and Australia.
Despite the fact that some libraries have been involved in fundraising activities no
study was conducted to measure the extent of these endeavors in Pakistan. A research
study was urgently needed which could collect and review the stray literature on the
topic and conduct a survey of various types of public sector libraries in the country.
Objectives of this study were to answer the following questions:
.How does library literature report fundraising activities in Pakistani libraries?
.How many donations/gifts did Pakistani libraries receive during previous three
.Who gave donations/gifts to Pakistani libraries?
.Which kind of donations/gifts did Pakistani libraries receive?
.How did Pakistani libraries experience their formal involvement in fundraising
.For what reasons libraries were not involved in fundraising?
.What is the future plan of libraries regarding fundraising?
A questionnaire survey was designed to collect data for this study. University, college,
public and special libraries, set up in government sector, with a reasonable collection
were selected as population for this survey. There was no comprehensive list of
libraries in Pakistan. However, a list of 128 such libraries with at least a collection of
25,000 volumes was prepared with the help of available directories. A sample of 100
libraries was randomly drawn for survey by drawing lots. The sample included 19
university, 46 college, 15 public and 20 special libraries. The sample fairly represented
various geographical locations of the country.
On the basis of literature review a semi-structured questionnaire was designed to
obtain required data. The questionnaires were sent through mail to the libraries. At
ﬁrst the response was very poor. After two follow-up letters, numerous telephone calls
and various personal visits of the researchers to some local libraries did generate a
reasonable return rate of 60 percent. The 60 libraries, which responded, included ten
university, 31 college, eight public and 11 special libraries (Table I). The data were
statistically analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) computer
Review of literature
The US National Society of Fund Raising Executives (1996) deﬁnes fundraising as “the
raising of assets and resources from various sources for the support of an organization
or a speciﬁc project”. Libraries have been beneﬁted from the support of individuals for
centuries. In 1638, John Harvard donated 400 books and half of his estate to Harvard
University. In 1701, Yale University was founded when ten ministers came together
and each donated books from his own library. The ﬁrst friends group for a university
was established at Harvard in 1925 (Hood, 1991, p. 11). Andrew Carnegie is considered
one of the major benefactors of libraries in US history. Between the years 1882 and
1919 he donated $56,162,622 to construct 2,509 library buildings in the
English-speaking world. Except for a few instances, Carnegie donated money only
for buildings and did not support or endow libraries (Sessa, 1978). Publicly supported
institutions in the USA are continuing to depend on private support to supplement
traditional funding sources. In the last 40 years fundraising in state-assisted colleges
and universities has accelerated. Dependence on voluntary support such as gifts from
alumni, friends, and corporations is growing (Heyns, 1994).
During the last two decades, the number of groups offering assistance to and
communication among library administrators and development personnel has
increased. These groups include the Association of College and Research Libraries
(ACRL) Fund Raising and Development Discussion Group, the Library Administration
and Management Association (LAMA) Fund Raising and Financial Development
Section, the Development Ofﬁcers of Research Academic Libraries, North America
(DORAL), and the Academic Library Advancement and Development Network
(ALADN). All these organizations focus primarily on fundraising and development
issues in libraries (Alexander, 1998; Leighty, 2002).
Surveys of fundraising activities in US libraries provide information on techniques
and methods used, sources contacted, types of funds raised and many other important
Library type Sample Response Percent response
University 19 10 53
College 46 31 67
Public 15 8 53
Special 20 11 55
Total 100 60 60
Number of libraries
which participated in the
aspects regarding the issue. Based on a study visit to North America, funded by the
British Library’s Research and Development Department, Wilkinson (1993) describes
fundraising activities in both university and public libraries in USA. She notes the role
that funds raised takes in the income and capital expenditure of these libraries. She
describes the techniques used to raise funds, the individuals involved and the skills
required. She considers why people give to libraries. She notes the different types of
program supported by funds raised. Claassen (1993) reports the result of a survey, by
the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), on developmental fundraising activities.
Among 87 ARL members, who responded, only 5 percent indicated they had no
development program at all. Libraries raised funds for a wide variety of programs: 79
percent raised money for collections; 77 percent raised funds for endowments; 56
percent for automation; 51 percent for preservation; 49 percent for library buildings;
and 30 percent managed to raise money for library operations.
Potts and Roper (1995) compare American and British practice and strategies of
fundraising used in public libraries. They found that: “methods of raising funds in US
are: government grants; endowment funds; donations from individuals, corporations
and foundations; foundations/trusts specially established for public library projects;
friends of the library groups; and special events and positive merchandizing; while UK
methods of raising funds are: sponsorship; grants; donations; Friends of the Public
Library; and various joint ventures” (Potts and Roper, 1995, p. 13). They concluded that,
“American libraries tend to have a more organized and aggressive approach to
fund-raising ...Asking for money is a much more acceptable practice in the USA than
in Britain” (Potts and Roper, 1995, p. 21). Latour (1995) surveyed fundraising activities
in 517 college and university libraries in the USA. Responses indicated that
approximately 66 percent of all academic libraries engaged in fundraising, and research
libraries being more likely to engage in fundraising than other types of libraries. Most
libraries took part in fundraising activities because of the rising cost of information
technology, along with the fact that they were encouraged to do so by their parent
institution. They engaged themselves in a wide variety of activities in order to raise
funds. The most popular fundraising techniques were: seeking private foundation
grants; having a library component within an institution-wide fundraising campaign;
seeking government grants, sponsoring a friends group; and holding a used book sale.
For all libraries that were engaged in fundraising activities, approximately 6.33 percent
of their operating budget was derived from fundraising activities and endowments.
Library Journal’s budget report for the ﬁscal year 1998, based on data from 533 libraries,
shows that since 1993, “fundraising is up 228 percent, illustrating the increased need for
fundraising as a source of revenue. More than two-third of survey respondents
conﬁrmed having a fundraising arm, up from 62 percent in FY98” (Lifer, 1999, p. 51).
In Pakistan, no formal study was conducted library fundraising activities. However,
mention of donations and gifts are found in general literature of librarianship
published in Pakistan. Donovan (1984) found that many of the libraries of Pakistan
receive donations. He recommends that “the Ministry of Local Government and Rural
Development should explore and encourage efforts to have the tax laws amended to
give tax credits for donations to public libraries and to libraries of educational
institutions” (Donovan, 1984, p. 23). Recognizing the importance of library fundraising
the Government of Pakistan has added it, for the ﬁrst time in the history of Pakistan, in
the policy provisions given in the National Education Policy 1998-2010. The policy
provides that, “Endowment fund for the development of libraries in collaboration with
donor agencies will be created” (Pakistan Ministry of Education, 1998, p. 119). Pakistan
Library Association (n.d.a) recently has decided to set up an endowment fund
suggested in the education policy and launched a campaign. Through a brochure the
Pakistan Library Association has requested each Pakistani family to donate Rs10 to
this fund. “In this way an amount of Rs.1,350 million can be raised. Provision of quality
books and furniture to the school and rural public libraries will be on priority”
(Pakistan Library Association, n.d.b). According to a news report, the Punjab Public
Library, Lahore has planned to hold a library day to help generate funds (American
Libraries, 2000, p. 32).
Literature shows that there have not been any concerted efforts for fundraising in
Pakistani libraries. Discussing the gifts and exchange activities in university libraries
in Pakistan, Haider (1993, p. 171) comments that:
Acquisition of gifts and process of exchange are the responsibility of acquisition departments
in the present administrative structure of university libraries in Pakistan, but there is not
much work done in this connection. Excluding casual gifts of single titles by their authors,
there are neither gifts fund, as found in Western countries, requiring accounting and
book-keeping, nor does the prevailing environment offer many chances for solicitation,
particularly in the scientiﬁc and technical ﬁelds.
Majid (1993) gives details of a USAID project in Pakistan which provided 17
agricultural libraries with computer equipment, software, CD-ROM databases, and
training. A grant of one million US dollars was approved for this project. Khokhar et al.
(1987, p. 30) mention that:
There are instances of donations in university libraries in Pakistan, but they are not regular.
In some cases donations in the form of materials such as books and equipment are received. A
good example of this is the British Book Presentation Programme sponsored by the UK
Overseas Development Administration through the British Council in Pakistan.
The statistics of library collection of the Allama Iqbal Open University, given by
Hasan (1982), shows that between 1974 and 1982 the library acquired 60 percent of its
collections through donations, and only 40 percent books were purchased. The Sind
University Library also got material through gifts/donations. Butt (1986, p. 26)
During the year 1980-81 nearly 267 books/publications were received under this head. Most
notable among donors was Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, Riyadh, who presented a
sizeable gift of 93 Arabic books ...The gift of Urdu books from Delhi University is also worth
mentioning. Various learned bodies and research organizations in private and public sector in
and outside the country also keep on sending their publications/reports to the library.
The library of the University of Peshawar, according to the statistics given by Khan
(1986), received more than 43,000 books through gifts and exchanges from 1951 to
1982. In Anwar’s (1983) survey of urban public libraries of Pakistan, it was found that
30 out of 68 libraries received books through donations. A total of 11 libraries received
book gifts from the Asia Foundation. Some other libraries got books from
organizations like M. Ibrahim Trust, Karachi, USIS, Franklin Publications, Rifa’t
Sultana Memorial, Unesco, individual philanthropists and general public (Anwar,
1983, pp. 72-3). The General Library at Sukkur received every year a cash donation of
Rs10,000 from Hakeem Saeed of the Hamdard Foundation. This donation was stopped
later. “The 1992-93 annual report of the library contains more than one hundred names
of institutions, newspapers, and individual lovers of this library who supported the
library with the donations in shape of cash or books” (Butt et al., 1996, pp. 56-7).
Regarding training on fundraising, one can ﬁnd only one example in the entire
country. In June 1996, the British Council invited a fundraising consultant from UK and
held two two-day workshops in Islamabad and Karachi. Fundraising personnel from
various non-government organizations (NGOs) participated in the workshops. To give
an idea of fundraising in library profession The NLDP sponsored ofﬁce-bearers of the
Pakistan Library Association to attend the workshop held in Islamabad. A total of 11
librarians participated with this sponsorship (The British Council Management
Various international organizations have been granting money for the development
of libraries in Pakistan. Haider (1993, p. 171) names some of them:
Some organizations like Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization,
have helped the Agricultural University at Faisalabad, and the Faculty of Health Science at
the Aga Khan University respectively, to enrich their collections by providing their own
publications. The British Council has also helped several libraries to procure British
periodicals by paying subscriptions on their behalf and by donating books and periodicals.
Ford Foundation too, is assisting Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and Applied
Economics Research Centre, University of Karachi, in this regard.
During 1991 to 1996, the NLDP has been active in the development of various areas of
librarianship in Pakistan particularly in the development of information technology in
the form of providing hardware, software, and assisting in expansions of training
facilities to libraries (Mahmood, 1996).
Mughal (1985) summarizes the role of Unesco in the development of librarianship in
Pakistan. Unesco had been instrumental in the establishment of many important
agencies and organizations in Pakistan such as Pakistan Bibliographical Working
Group (PBWG), National Book Centre of Pakistan (NBC)/National Book Council of
Pakistan (NBCP), Pakistan Scientiﬁc and Technological Information Centre (PASTIC),
Regional Ofﬁce of Cultural and Book Development in Asia (ROCBA), and Unesco
Regional Centre for Reading Material in Asia. Unesco also organized some training
courses from time to time for Pakistani librarians. On the request of the Pakistan
Government Unesco invited experts to formulate plans for library development in
Pakistan. In 1989, a network of business and economics libraries of Lahore
(LABELNET) was set up with the joint sponsorship of International Development
Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and the Lahore University of Management Sciences
(LUMS). Under this project bibliographic databases were established, union list of
serials was published, an inter-library loan system was set up, and training to the staff
of participating libraries in information technology was imparted (Riaz, 1990).
To provide assistance to libraries in the Punjab province, the Punjab Library
Foundation was established in 1985 with a capital of Rs100 million. In the shape of
books, furniture and equipment the Foundation has allocated, between the years 1986
and 1991, Rs56.4 million to 237 public libraries of the province. Other projects of the
Foundation include training, workshops, prize competition for research articles on
librarianship, publication of books, computerization, free textbook service, award of
foreign scholarships, and a mobile library service (Taj, 1991).
Fundraising in libraries
Data regarding fundraising activities of libraries surveyed during three ﬁscal years are
presented and analyzed in this section.
The libraries in the sample were asked to list donations of Rs10,000 or above they
received during previous three ﬁscal years. A total of 16 libraries (27 percent)
mentioned a total number of 45 gifts of such kind. Of these 16 libraries ﬁve were
university, seven were college and four were public libraries. A further 73 percent of
libraries did not mention any donations or gifts they received during the period of three
years. Further analyses of these 45 gifts are given below.
A total of 29 (64 percent) gifts were made by foundations. Ten (22 percent) gifts
were made by individuals (Table II). The Punjab Library Foundation made 20 gifts and
the Asia Foundation made seven gifts. Other donors include Agricultural Development
Bank of Pakistan, Syed Babar Ali Foundation, Chinese Consulate in Pakistan, Japan
Foundation, National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad, United States
Information Service, and individuals. In response to another question, libraries
mentioned that 24 (53 percent) of total gifts were received in the form of in-kind
donation while 21 (47 percent) gifts were in the form of cash.
Library material (books, journals, etc.) was purchased from donated money in 34
cases (76 percent). In seven cases (16 percent) equipment (computers, printers, etc.) was
purchased from this money. Other uses of donation include hiring of staff and purchase
of furniture (Table III).
Formal fundraising activities
Only ﬁve libraries (8 percent of 60) reported that they were formally involved in
fundraising activities during previous three years. Of these three were public libraries
and two were university libraries. In response to the question, “How would you rate the
success of your library’s fundraising activities?” three libraries valued their success as
Rank Donor type Frequency of gifts Percent
1 Foundation 29 64
2 Individual 10 22
3 International agency 3 7
4 Other 2 4
5 Commercial ﬁrm 1 2
Total 45 100
Frequency distribution of
type of donors
Rank Use Frequency Percent
1 Material 34 76
2 Equipment 7 16
3 Staff 3 7
4 Furniture 1 2
Total 45 100
Frequency distribution of
uses of donation money
moderate, while the other two stated as “moderately unsuccessful”. In response to the
question, “To what extent your library has authority to launch a fundraising activity?”
two libraries made mention that fundraising was a centralized activity, two said that it
was a decentralized activity, while one stated that it was a shared activity between the
library and its parent institution. All the libraries answered to the question, “Which
staff member has primary responsibility for fundraising activities?” said that it is the
chief librarian who was responsible for such activities. Another question was
“Whether libraries used the services of a fundraising consultant outside the
institution?” All libraries responded in negative.
Four libraries stated, in response to a question about the friends of the library
organization, that they had no such organization. Only one library mentioned that it
had a group of library friends. Primarily it was a social group and not at all active.
Three libraries stated that they had prepared a fundraising plan while two stated that
they had not. There were only two libraries that had a donor recognition program
while the other three had no such program.
Reasons for not engaging in fundraising activities
The respondents that were not engaged in fundraising activities during past three
ﬁscal years were asked to mention reasons for not doing this. Out of 55 libraries that
were not involved in fundraising 38 gave such reasons. A total of 15 (39 percent)
libraries mentioned that they had insufﬁcient staff to engage in such activities; 13 (34
percent) libraries could not raise funds because it was the responsibility of the parent
institution. Seven libraries reported that they had adequate funding and three libraries
stated that they launched a fundraising campaign in the past but result was not
encouraging (Table IV). Other reasons mentioned by six libraries include:
.fundraising is not allowed by the government (four responses);
.fundraising is not common in libraries;
.fundraising is not possible; and
.library staff did not think about fundraising.
Future plan for fundraising
Libraries that were not engaged in fundraising activities were asked if they were
planning to engage in such activities during next three years. Out of 55 libraries 47
responded to this question. Only 12 libraries stated that they were planning to engage
themselves in these activities while other 35 had no future plan regarding fundraising.
Rank Reason Frequency Percent
1 Library staff is insufﬁcient to engage for fundraising activities 15 39
2 The parent institution manages fundraising through a different
department/ofﬁce 13 34
3 Library receives adequate funding 7 18
4 Other 6 16
5 Library launched fundraising campaign in the past but the result
was not encouraging 3 8
Frequency distribution of
reasons for not engaging
in fundraising activities
The results of this study show that library fundraising, which is now very popular in
developed countries, has not gained ground in Pakistan. Most of the libraries were not
aware of the beneﬁts of seeking private money. A small number of libraries received
some donations and gifts, but very few formally engaged themselves in such activities.
The study indicates that there were potential library donors in the form of foundations,
international agencies and individuals but libraries, due to one or other reason, did not
pay attention to seeking money or equipment from them.
It is recommended that the potential of fundraising for Pakistani libraries should be
explored. Librarians should be made aware of the success stories of library
development in advanced countries. Library schools and professional associations can
play an important role in this regard. Government should also encourage such
activities in libraries.
It is a fact that the government has to face dragons of illiteracy, national defense,
internal terrorism, poor health, insufﬁcient food, and miserable living conditions of
millions of people in Pakistan. Librarianship is a low priority area for the government
in such a poor social milieu. On the other hand, despite all these deﬁciencies in
Pakistan, many hospitals, educational institutions, and other institutions of social
service are being run successfully through private funding. Philanthropists give
millions of rupees for social cause and welfare of the humanity. Libraries can also get
beneﬁt from this money.
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