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Saved by Jacque E. Peterson
on July 18, 2013 at 11:44:15 am

Budget work can be separated into two categories:  Budget Advocacy and Budget Organization.


Budget Advocacy


Do not assume that the budget you are given is finite.  Generous budgets can always be cut, and tight budgets can often be expanded.  It is the responsibility of the school librarian to advocate for adequate library funding; write or talk to school board members, administrators, and other relevant personnel.    Your efforts will be more effective if you keep statistics and prove that library funds are well-spent.  The most persuasive statistics are those that prove library funding has a positive effect upon student learning and test scores.  (For information about how to collect such statistics, see the Additional Resources at the bottom of this page.)


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Without an adequate budget and well-planned use of the money, the collection will slowly become so outdated as to be of little educational use.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


Budget Organization


Carefully plan how you will allocate your funds, giving consideration to all library users and areas that require attention.  The ability to meet deadlines is an imperative part of this step, as funding may no longer be available unless funds are encumbered on time.  It is also important to communicate with other departments within your building to help determine needs and avoid duplication of purchases.


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


  • Collection:  Current, well-reviewed print (i.e., books), nonprint (i.e., DVDs) and electronic (i.e., database) resources.  Be sure to update reference works frequently.


  • Magazines/Journals:
    • Subscriptions to provide on-site access to current news and leisure reading magazines at student reading levels.
    • Subscriptions to journals or magazines that contribute to professional development of staff.
    • Subscriptions to professional journals to assist librarian with title selections.


  • Programming:  Registration and associated costs for reading incentive programs (e.g., Battle of the Books.)


  • Technology:


    • Upgrade and maintenance costs of existing hardware/software.
    • New/additional computers, peripherals, or 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. that may come out of the library budget.


  • Supplies:  Consumable items such as book jackets, book repair materials, spine labels, printer cartridges, CD or DVD-ROMs, laminating film, die cuts, 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 or funding a reading incentive program in an effort to raise their reading skill levels. 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.  Worthington: Linworth Publishing, 2003.

(Available from Alaska State Library Anchorage office.)


Additional Resources:


The following resources are available via the Digital Pipeline.


Lance, Keith Curry; and Christine Hamilton-Pennell and Marcia J. Rodney.  Information Empowered: The School Librarian as an Agent of Academic Achievement in Alaska Schools. Revised Edition.  Juneau: Alaska State Library, 2000.


Dickinson, Gail.  "Budgeting as Easy as 1-2-3: How to Ask--And get--the Money You Need."  Library Media Connection Mar. 2004: 14-17.


Geier, Denise B.  "Prevent a Disaster in Your Library: Advertise."  Library Media Connection Jan. 2007: 32-33.


Geitgey, Gayle A. and Ann E. Tepe.  "Can You Find Evidence-Based Practice in Your School Library?"  Library Media Connection Mar. 2007: 10-12.


Todd, Ross.  "The Evidence Based Manifesto for School Librarians."  School Library Journal Apr. 2008: 38-43.

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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