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Grants

Page history last edited by Sue Sherif 11 years, 8 months ago

School libraries are normally supported in their programs and development by the budget of the school district. Occasionally, additional funds become available from legislative appropriations or gifts from local businesses or residents. Some librarians become adept at raising money for their library using fund-raising activities such as book fairs or read-ins or even candy sales. Another road to increasing the financial base of the library is applying for grants, either on the local or federal level. Grantsmanship is a highly technical field, and most districts employ someone who has special expertise to help district programs write the best possible applications. The process is usually very difficult, but the financial rewards can be well worth the effort.

 

In Alaska, school libraries are eligible to apply for Interlibrary Cooperation Grants given each year by the Alaska State Library. This grant process is less stringent than most of the federal programs, and can be completed by building level librarians.  ILC grants have been awarded to several school libraries. In recent years, grants have been awarded for reading incentive programs, cooperative networking, computer equipment for Internet access, and statewide training activities. Proposals should meet the LSTA purposes and the goals outlined in the Alaska State Plan 2008 – 2012..

 

In late January or early February, applications are sent to every school district office, every district library coordinator, every public library, and every library that has applied in the past. The availability of applications is announced on the AkLA listserv, AkLA-L (see Associations & Organizations) Replies are due back on April 1. Amounts awarded have ranged from $250.00 to $10,000.00.

 

The State Library will consider funding programs that are specifically set up as “pilot programs”, testing a product or program which would have statewide significance if it was proved to work. The ILC grants should not be written to support ongoing operational costs or to replace primary funding sources.

If you wish to apply for funding for a project developed according to the guidelines above, contact the Grants Administrator, Alaska State Library at 269-6566 and request an application. If you want to talk to someone about your ideas before filling out the papers, you can contact the School Library Coordinator at 269-6571. You can call the office toll-free in Alaska at 1-800-776-6566.

 

The purposes set by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)

  1. establishing or enhancing electronic linkages among or between libraries;
  2. electronically linking libraries with educational, social, or information services;
  3. assisting libraries in accessing information through electronic networks;
  4. encouraging libraries in different areas, and encouraging different types of libraries, to establish consortia and share resources;
  5. paying costs for libraries to acquire or share computer systems and telecommunications technologies; and
  6. targeting library and information services to persons having difficulty using a library and to underserved urban and rural communities.

 

The goals set forth in the Alaska State Plan 2008 - 2012

1. Alaskan libraries will support lifelong learning by expanding access to knowledge and information in current and emerging formats. 

2. Alaskan libraries will improve services to people of diverse backgrounds and to underserved populations.

3. Alaskans will have increasingly equitable access to information through an enhanced technological infrastructure. 

4. Alaskan libraries will actively participate in networks, partnerships, and collaborative activities. 

5. Alaskan libraries will improve their capacity to provide library services that respond to community needs and expectations. 

 

Federal Grants

The only federal grant program specifically for school libraries in the last six years has been part of No Child Left Behind legislation.  The grant program is called "Improving Literacy through School Libraries."

Only Title I school districts that meet yearly eligiblility requirements based on census (not free and reduced lunch) standards for the highest poverty are eligible to apply. Each year there are 13-18 Alaska school districts (all rural) that qualify, and most years one or two Alaska school districts are successful in their application.  To learn more about this grant program and its history, see the U.S. Department of Education website at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/lsl/index.html  This program may see change in 2009, so check the website frequently if you think your district might qualify and are interested to see whether the program will continue.

 

Some Additional Grant Possibilities for School/Community Libraries

  • Public Library Assistance Grants

    If your library serves as a combined school/public library, is open to the public for at least 48 weeks per year and at least three days per week, your library may also be eligible to apply for a Public Library Assistance Grant. Applications are available each February 1st and need to be completed and submitted by April 1st. To learn more or discuss this process, contact the Grants Administrator at the Alaska State Library – (907) 269-6566.

  • Libri Foundation

    This foundation was established to help rural libraries acquire quality children’s books they could not otherwise afford to buy. In general, a library should serve a population under 10,000 (usually under 5,000), have a very limited budget, be in a rural area, and have an active children’s department. Applications are accepted from school libraries only if they also serve as the public library. Application deadlines are March 15, July 15, and December 15. To request an application packet, email librifdn@teleport.com or contact them at the address and phone numbers listed below:

 

Grant Writing Tips

  • To find grant opportunities available to school libraries, look in professional journals such as School Library Journal, LMC, etc. Also monitor websites that offer grant resources. Here are some you could try:
  • Involve as many appropriate people as possible in the brainstorming/prewriting phase of the grant writing process so you get ideas from all perspectives.
  • When the application process includes a rubric, read the rubric carefully, note the point differences for various possible answers, and answer each question specific to what the rubric calls for.
  • Use tables and cross-reference different questions so readers can see the connections between the various parts of the narrative. These are easier to read than paragraphs.
  • The best grants are those that convey the intent and plans of the grant in a to-the-point manner (no flowery gobbledygook). The key is to write it so someone who has no idea of your situation can grasp/understand what you are trying to do. To do this, let as many people as you can (preferably those who aren't familiar with your plan) read the grant before you submit it. Then ask them to tell you what they think the grant is all about. This process will help you refine and clarify what you've written. Remember, grant readers have 1- 2 hours at best to try to grasp what you have spent days, hours, and/or weeks creating. As a grant writer you carry many details in your head. Make sure they are not left out of the grant narrative.
  • Plan plenty of time for rewrites.
  • If a needs assessment is asked for, create a survey and get feedback to support your stated needs. Don’t guess what the needs might be.
  • Write the grant as if you have the money. State what you are going to do and exactly how you will do it, not what you plan to do if you get the money. Don't imply that you are using the money to figure out what you might do. You have to have all your ducks in a row before you get the money.
  • If you are writing the grant with others, try to identify the team’s strengths. For example figure out who excels at writing, who excels at collecting data, who excels at formatting the document - use those strengths to put the grant together. It’s like putting together a big puzzle with so many pieces.
  • Even when you don't get the funding, don't regret the experience. With a good plan in hand, it will be easier to convince local money sources of your need to fund your plan. The process also helps the writers really identify what is needed and how to best meet the needs.

 

 


This section contributed by Roz Goodman, school library consultant, and revised in 2008 by Sue Sherif, Alaska State Library.

Comments (1)

Laurene Madsen said

at 7:07 am on Feb 17, 2010

This is a comprehensive overview of grant writing and tips for success. In addition, the Library Grants Blog http://librarygrants.blogspot.com/ authored by Stephanie Gerding & Pam MacKellar is a great way to stay current on available grants, as well as the Resources & Services for Ak Librarians from the State Library http://library.state.ak.us/dev/libdev.html#grants, provides grant applications, budget revisions and timely information about available grants.

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