In addition to core funding received from host institutions, governments or others, libraries represent great partners for others who share our commitment to supporting sustainable development. The results of a project made possible by Stichting IFLA Global Libraries in 2023, and carried out by The Doyenne Project, give an idea of who has a track-record of supporting libraries among private donors and public development agencies.

Libraries have a long history of helping to deliver on a wide variety of development goals, from literacy and school readiness to research productivity and urban cohesion.

Their unique potential – thanks to their public spaces, committed staff, responsive service provision and collections – has been recognised not just by the governments or others that traditionally fund them, but also by a range of other funders, private and public alike.

In order to understand better who these are – and so who might be able to provide support for well-designed and delivered library projects in future, we were happy to share the results of a project carried out by The Doyenne Project, and made possible by Stichting IFLA Global Libraries through a grant in 2023.

This work focused on almost 100 of the largest funders. Of these, half were private foundations and the other half national or international development agencies. The authors looked through publicly available information about the types of projects that they funded, identifying those that focused on or included libraries as partners or beneficiaries. They also gathered data about the location, timing and focus of projects, and to which Sustainable Development Goals they were most closely aligned.

The research identified that around half of major private donors have supported libraries in the past, while 37% of development aid agencies did so. Nonetheless, in the case of the latter, this represents around 2/3 of all those agencies for which clear information was available.

You can access the data, as well as a methodological note and videos explaining how to use it, on our dedicated page. This also includes a link to a survey that allows you to submit further examples of projects. By doing so, you help colleagues around the world in their own partnership-building efforts.

This information is valuable for libraries and library associations looking to identify potential partners for future projects. Being able to show that a funder has a track record of supporting libraries can be a powerful argument, even if it is another country than your own.

Clearly, this information is only a first step. Before approaching funders, it is important to ensure that you have a professional and credible plan, as well as the capacity to deliver on it successfully. If you feel that you need further support, look to identify people or organisations which can bring in the skills you need!