Non-profit libraries are endangered species.
Non-profit libraries in languages other than the official country language(s) a financial are unsupported either locally and often, as in our case, by the country whose culture they represent. In fact, a number of institutions in Canada operating as non-profit library providing primarily a lending service is plain and simple zero.
To offset the cost we rely exclusively on a good will of community and volunteers. We have to pay rent, telephone, banking charges and the costs of fundraising. Additionally, we are faced with a slow but steady loss of functional literacy among new generations of Croatians, a slower rate of community growth due to diminished immigration from Croatia and competition with other players in the non-profit sector.
Our patrons are coming from two demographic groups: they are either individuals who had completed a bulk of their schooling in Croatia or families of Croatian origin with young children who want to keep their language alive.
True, in some ways we have similar challenges as public libraries have – finding easy to engage children or seniors and difficult to connect with teenagers or adults.
In some other ways, our challenges are much more complex and we run in a survival mode most of the time.
The stress associated with running a non-profit library never fades. In fact, it often feels as whenever you attempt to mend the upper layer, connect the dots and focus on solving suddenly some deeper level emerges requiring all of our attention and resources. Yes, thank you for asking, we have it all: issues with volunteers management and retention, with governance, collection, vision and mission, digitization or developing archive. And yet, while other species find support in their flocks and herds and Associations endangered species are not only separated but also lonely. Lacking companionship when searching for food or establishing families could be detrimental to our very survival. Non-profit libraries like all libraries need funding, training, consortia purchasing rights and professionals to run them.
We have been looking actively to engage in a dialogue and find the way out of isolation, yet there is a very strong possibility for us to become extinct in the very near future.