The Future of the California Statewide Cooperative Digital Reference Service
Librarian in Black blogger, Sarah Houghton-Jan, recently posted an article on the future for California libraries' statewide chat reference. She states that although the state is currently offering this service free to CA residents, it is completely dependent on state and grant funding outside of regular budget lines for it's survival. Each year funding for the service has been less and less. Last year and this coming year there has been enough funding to keep the service up and running but there has not been enough to maintain a coordinator to administer the service.
There has been A LOT of discussion about this on the DigRef listserv. Some of the points highly in the discussion string are how to libraries firm up funding for their newly added services/projects? How do you transition from a grant fund base to having your service incorporated in the permanent budget structure? Also, it's important to set (achievable) goals for your library so that you have something to fall back on when you have to defend your service and also something to tout when you want to promote your successful service. What and who will define these goals?
I think the most important thing when you are trying to transition a project or service from temporary funding to permanent funding is that you have successful measureable goals that prove your service or project have/can make an inpact in your community. Also, it is important that the ones that administer the service or project be actively involved in creating those goals because otherwise, those goals will be created by individuals that are not involved in the project or service and may not know or understand the mission of that service or project. They could create goals that are not in scope with the project/service or its intended outcomes.
It will be interesting to see how California structures their AskNow statewide digital reference service to receive enough funding to keep it going.