Friday, September 5, 2014

How A Library Is Like A Mutual Fund

Ok, so maybe not so high school.  But on the other hand, very high school.  We have, from time to time, offered Investing 101 courses during short term, and it's likely to come around again.

Teachers across the country, in independent schools and universities, have their retirement savings invested with TIAA-CREF.  I've worked in two independent schools, for over 25 years (requisite YIKES!! here) and TIAA-CREF has billions of my savings for the "twilight years."  Point being, I'm beginning to pay attention, and trying to understand fully where all that money is and how it's supposed to grow to support me, my adult children, goats, bees, chickens and cats in, say, 20 years from now.  I kind of think that TIAA-CREF is a mutual fund company that works almost exclusively within the world of academia, and exclusively toward long-term retirement goals. Please help me out if I'm woefully off base here.

As I understand it, a mutual fund is a big collection of individual stocks (and other things), managed by a professional understanding-stock-investments person, who buys and sells holdings within the ever-changing collection, in order to meet the financial goals stated in the prospectus.

My grandmother was
a university librarian,
and collected owls.
A library is a big collection of individual sources of information, managed by a professional understanding-information-sources person, who buys and weeds holdings within the ever-changing collection, in order to meet the information needs of the community, as outlined in the library's 'prospectus,' (aka "collection purpose and goals.")

Mutual fund managers spend their days reading the latest information and evaluating the worth of each stock, bond or real estate investment -- not just in abstract money terms, but also in terms of how that investment can meet the stated goals of the fund.  Then they act on that information, buying and selling, to keep the collection relevant to the shareholders' goals.

I spend (part of) my days reading reviews, researching sources of information for a variety of teacher and student needs, and identifying the best in terms of our community. Then I add the best and delete the outdated, books, weblinks and databases to the library collection to keep it relevant and useful to the Paideia community's needs and goals.

If a mutual fund doesn't keep up with, or exceed, the market's index, the fund manager has failed to meet goals.

If the Paideia Library doesn't keep up with, or anticipate, the community's information and reading needs, then I'm not serving my peeps as you should be served.

Everyone in the Paideia community is an investor in the libraries -- as a student working to learn, as a tuition-paying parent, as a teacher of students, as a staff member keeping the place running.   As a fund manager, I encourage you to read the prospectus, come see what your investment has provided, and use it to increase your wealth of knowledge and understanding.

You owe it to yourself to use your investments wisely.  The door is open -- come on in!

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