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Saved by Alaska State Library: Library Development
on June 13, 2008 at 11:09:17 am

Money is necessary in order to create and maintain a quality school library program. Recent research has found that

Of all expenditures that influence a school’s effectiveness – including those for facilities, teachers, guidance services and others – the level of expenditures for library media services (i.e., personnel, books and materials, technology, and facilities) has the highest correlation with student achievement. (1)

Without an adequate budget and well-planned use of the money, the collection will slowly become so outdated as to be of little educational use.

Creating an information literate society is an expensive task. The school library media program requires a level of funding that will give all students adequate opportunities. In an era when access to information defines the difference between wealth and poverty, the library media program must provide access to all the information and instruction that students and others need for active, authentic, information-based learning. The school library media program requires a budget that supports the continuous collection of information in all formats and that provides the instructional infrastructure that will help students learn to use that information in creative, meaningful ways." (2)

When planning your budget, be sure to consider each of these major portions of a typical school library program:


Current, well-reviewed print (i.e., books), nonprint (i.e., videos), and electronic (i.e., CDs) resources to support the curriculum and student interests.

Updated reference works.


Subscriptions to provide on-site access to current news and leisure reading interests at student reading levels.

Education magazines and journals to assist staff in preparing their classes.


Registration for the yearly Battle of the Books or some other reading incentive program.

Cost of Battle of the Books titles or materials to support other library programs.


Upgrade and maintenance costs for existing hardware/software.

New/additional computers, peripherals, software as needed to support electronic access to information and library automation systems.

Service agreement charges for major software packages and machinery including computers, copiers, etc. if those come out of the library budget.


Consumable items such as book jackets, book repair materials, spine labels, printer cartridges, diskettes, etc.

There are several budgeting methods – Lump Sum, Line Item, etc. – but whichever your school uses, try to earmark at least some of your budget to fund expenditures that address specific needs in your student or faculty population.

As an example

If your school has a large number of students in a particular grade exhibiting low reading scores, you might target that group by purchasing exciting books on their current reading levels, funding a reading incentive program, etc., in an effort to raise their reading skill levels. Then track their progress and use this information to demonstrate how the school library makes an educational difference. By showing what a small amount of money has done to affect needed changes, you can demonstrate what a larger library budget would do to serve the greater educational needs at your school.

Resource for In-Depth Budgeting

Dickinson, Gail. Empty Pockets and Full Plates: Effective Budget Administration for Library Media Specialists, Linworth Publishing, 2003. (Available from Alaska State Library Anchorage office.)

1. Colorado Department of Education. The Impact of School Library Media Centers on Academic Achievement. Denver: The Department, 1993.

2. American Association of School Librarian. Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. Chicago: The American Library Association, 1998.

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