Today there was a post on LM_NET from a librarian who lost most of her book budget due to a budget freeze in her district.
Over the years, I have learned how to protect my budget when finances are tight. My best tips?
Order virtually all your books from a book jobber such as Baker & Taylor and Follett.
Encumber those funds right away.
How does this help?
It allows me to create a “do not exceed” order that I can submit at my “leisure” because the money has already been encumbered. This means the business office has already set aside the funds, considering that money as already spent.
Here are the steps I follow:
First, I fill out budget requisition forms for book orders to Baker & Taylor (my favorite book jobber).
I typically prepare 3 of this kind of order. One says: “replacements and updates for outdated books”. The second requisition says: “Non-fiction books to support the curriculum”, and the third says: “Literature and fiction to support English/Language Arts and Reading”.
Assuming a book budget of $4500, on each of these requisitions I write the following:
Books Not To Exceed $1500
Note to business office: Please do NOT mail in this requisition. Instead, give me the Purchase Order number and I will submit the order electronically.
The requisitions are then sent to the business office in June, along with any other orders we have for supplies or contractual services.
When I receive the PO information in September, I start building my orders at my own pace, submitting the order via the book jobber’s website when I am ready. Usually the non-fiction orders are sent in October or Nov., and the fiction order goes out in February.
By doing this, I don’t lose my money if there is a budget freeze. AND – I don’t have to scramble to order everything at once just in case there might be a freeze.
There are SOME things that must be ordered directly from the publisher rather than a jobber – so I do keep a certain amount set aside for those needs. If there is a budget freeze – that is the ONLY money that is vulnerable.