Blog Archives

Salem Press Launches The Library Grants Center

Salem Press via kwout

Today, Salem Press launched The Library Grants Center, a free, online directory of grants for libraries.   Developed and Edited by Mirela Roncevic for Salem Press, the grants tool empowers librarians to locate library grant funding sources on the national, state, regional and local levels (US sources).  The center is free, requires no login or authentication, and will be updated on a regular basis.  It also contains a how-to area with a tutorial, FAQ, and lists of resources.

According to the Salem press release, the web site focuses on grants available to all types of libraries and from a range of sources—public and private— including professional organizations, large corporations, and family foundations. “Everyone’s aware of the financial pressures on libraries. They are enormous and growing,” said Peter Tobey, Salem Press’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “So we were motivated to try to relieve some of that pressure by developing self-help tools for librarians. The Library Grant Center is that tool.”
The Library Grants Center consists of three distinct sections:

  • National Library Grants features a sophisticated search tool that lets grant seekers perform simple keyword searches or narrow their search options. A range of browsing options is also provided, including browsing by grant category, purpose, and deadline.
  • State Library Grants is a state-by-state guide that points librarians to grant information specific to their state and to the foundations in their area that support libraries.
  • Library Grants How-To provides in-depth information on the grant applications process, complete with extensive lists of resources for further research and pointing to grant writing tools available online at no cost.

“We hope librarians will help us add to the Center so that, as a community, we can keep it up-to-date and growing,” added Tobey. “We are committed to keeping it current and useful.”

According to Roncevic, “the proliferation of social media outlets has inundated the library and publishing industry with relentless dialog. While dialog is important, we shouldn’t forget the tools. The more free tools we build and share, the more we grow our community’s footprint. The bigger that footprint, the greater the benefit for all involved. The Library Grants Center is a free tool that addresses the needs of librarians looking for funding but also a practical reminder to publishers and vendors that their support still matters a great deal.”

An Elementary Library Redesign with Very Little Money, Part 2

Workday at the Cheap and Cheerful Library


After our planning sessions with principals, librarians, Superintendent Pam Moran, and consultant Ira Socol from Michigan State, my principal and I chose 4 changes that volunteers could help with:

  1. painting trees on 3 short walls, leading the eye through the glass door to the playground
  2. rebuilding 3 shelving units to add window seats
  3. covering dull maroon chairs with bright fabric
  4. low bench seats under the trees

Painting crew.

We found key volunteers who could manage groups. A first grade teacher offered to head the chair crew in the art room. Two parents with carpentry skills agreed to bring supplies and tools for the window seat crew. Our art teacher sketched and taped outlines of trees.

Then we contacted UVA’s Madison House volunteer center and the high school’s Key Club. We asked parents for help via email blast, our Connect Ed phone calls, notices in backpacks, information on the website and even a wiki with embedded video explanations of work involved, and Google form surveys under each work crew to collect names of interested helpers. And yes, some parents never heard about it.

There is no perfect day for anything in the school year calendar! We chose Saturday, April 16th, the end of the last full week after Spring Break. BookFair was set up in the library the night before, but we closed and covered it. My principal showed up early, having bought fabric and paint the day before and we were ready to go.

Carpentry crew making window seats from shelves.

Everything went beautifully. The largest group was the Chair crew. They worked efficiently, taking chairs apart, ironing and cutting, stapling and reassembling. The carpentry crew consisted of 5 dads and a high school student who loved the chance to do the math for them. They took apart solid wood shelving and reused the shelf tops for window seats. The art teacher’s group was the last to finish. Volunteers of all ages painted brown trees on the pale blue background, with a 7th grader doing the precise edges.

One group decided to wait until after Book Fair to start their project. The furniture maker dad said the low bench seats should be light, portable and easy to detach from the tree wall. Then he pointed to the stripped wall in my office, visible through the internal window, and offered to put furring strips on the concrete blocks and attach a wall of wood, to paint, hang, and mount changing displays easily. I can’t wait for my Tableau Wall and my first display is going to be a giant bug, inspired by Cool Stuff from Bottle Caps.

As soon as  Book Fair is packed and gone, we’ll be able to see the changes. Part 3 will show the after pictures.

Maroon chairs were recovered in 6 different colors!

An Elementary Library Redesign with Very Little Money, Part 1

I’ve been thinking about how library spaces can be improved for a long time. When I was a Children’s Librarian in a public library, I often marveled at how architects treated certain aspects of libraries as their chance to be noticed (at a big price) without really understanding how libraries might feel to children. As a career-switcher with an alternative path Teacher’s Certificate added to my MLS, I wanted to wait and really understand schools before I tackled my own library. Two years ago at the School Library Journal Summit 2009 in DC, I heard about several impressive projects at a session moderated by Dr. David Loertscher. This school year, the time finally came for me to re-think my space.
Our superintendent, Pam Moran, proposed a small seed project to help several school libraries move away from the rigid overpriced library environments of the past (think 1940s in some cases) toward more configurable spaces that would promote the library as a center for learning. Luckily, my new principal Kendra King was all for it. We discussed technology, lighting, color, shelving and learning activities with an eye for how to accomplish our vision with very little money, but with some help from parents and the community. We mapped out what we wanted in several sections, what should go, what could be added and which jobs were for maintenance (electrical and window work) and which could be done by volunteers. Our focus was how to revamp the library into a place where students would have more choice and be more invested, not only in the physical space, but in their own learning.
The first thing I did was commission a giant clipboard from Shadiah Lahham, an illustration/multimedia wiz and graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, because I’ve always wanted one! It is mounted on the wall and the top is 8 ft off the floor in the entry to the library. It sparks immediate interest, as well as lesson ideas for math, animation, and student work. Then I set up a working wiki:
and gathered ideas from other teachers, school librarians, artists and designers.
I began weeding like never before. In terms of books, my goal was to shrink my nonfiction section down from 3 long shelving ranges to two. This took about 3 months and nerves of steel, but it was the only way to free up the space we needed. My main considerations were:

1. What’s of interest?
2. What’s not just factual, but has narrative power and beauty?
3. What books have lower reading levels and therefore will not be easily replaced by database articles or websites?

Weeding books was hard enough, but I weeded the walls and furniture too. I wanted a lot of space for intriguing art, posters, installations and student-made displays. As I weeded furniture, the part of the library with table and chairs began to look more appealing and less like an area waiting for the next PTO or faculty meeting.

Melissa Techman, MLS

Melissa Techman

I’m a Teacher Librarian and Tech Lead Teacher for Albemarle County Public Schools at Broadus Wood Elementary in Earlysville, near Charlottesville, VA. I have been a Children’s Librarian as well,  at Houston Public Library (Go, Mosquitoes! Oh wait, libraries don’t have sports teams). I’ve taught for 9 years and am currently putting together an informal day camp for grades 5 through really old (me) to learn how to make apps and e-books. My interests include art/design, usability (especially truncating the heck out of stuff), Special Ed, and encouraging students to have strategies in all areas, not just math and reading. Best current use of Twitter: asking Scholastic to show good customer service by sending popular book in promo video, after 6 email and phone requests. They arrived by FedEx the next day.


Twitter: @mtechman

Wednesday Webinars January 2011: Attend Live or Listen to the Archive!

The Georgia Library Association and Georgia Public Library Service are pleased to announce the January 2011 sessions of theWednesday Webinar series (WWS), which highlights trends, innovation, and best practices in Georgia Libraries. The webinars feature Georgia speakers, but registration is open to anyone, anywhere. Topics are chosen to be of interest to employees of all library types, and each session is approved for one Georgia Continuing Education (CE) contact hour. The sessions will be recorded and available on the WWS archives site for later viewing. 

Choosing Technology: How We Decide What Technologies Work Best in Our Libraries
Presented by Tim Daniels

Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 10:00am – 11:00am Eastern Time
Separate registration is required for each hour-long session.
In today’s environment librarians are constantly bombarded with new and emerging technologies. These technologies can run the gamut from smart phone applications to enterprise-wide systems. How can we decide which technologies are the best, which ones to keep an eye on, and which ones to avoid? During this session we will talk about decision making and apply it to technology.

Personal Knowledge Management: A Framework for Librarians
Presented by Elisabeth Shields 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 11:15am – 12:15pm Eastern Time
Separate registration is required for each hour-long session.

Searching is the easy part. But what do you do with all the material youve collected? What happens when you find an article that reminds you of something someone said in a meeting two weeks ago (or was it three)? What do you do to share your own thoughts, insights from articles and blogs, and what your manager said at the last staff meeting with the team charged with developing a strategic plan?

Tools for knowledge management are usually meant for institutions and are correspondingly expensive. But there are many tools for personal knowledge management that are very affordable. Discuss personal management needs with Elisabeth Shields; hear about the types of tools available with examples of each type.

Please contact a member of the Wednesday Webinar planning team with questions or ideas:
Sarah Steiner, Georgia Library Association, PACE Chair,
Buffy Hamilton, Wednesday Webinars Steering Committee,
Pat Carterette, Georgia Public Library Service,

Sarah K. Steiner
Social Work Librarian
Georgia State University Library
100 Decatur Street SE
Atlanta, GA 30303
phone: 404.413.2808
fax: 404.413.2851

Yes You Can! Library Girl’s Tips for Getting That Grant!

With mandated library funding rapidly becoming a thing of the past, grant writing is no longer just a nice skill to have.  Rather, it is a necessary and important part of the school librarian’s job description.  While I certainly haven’t received every grant I’ve ever applied for, these strategies have helped me earn over $30,000 of supplemental funds for my school library over the last several years.  I hope they will help you too!

Think Locally: There are tons of great federal and corporate grants out there and some of them offer big pots of money.  However, with big pots come big competition and, sometimes, big strings attached.  Plus, local foundations, businesses and civic organizations have something the big boys don’t -and that’s a potential tie to your community.  You’ve got a better chance at making a personal connection with your application, if the folks reading it *know* your school or even just your community or region.  Regardless of the grant you’re applying for, it’s important to use the limited number of words you’ve been given to paint a picture for the team reading it. Taking a shot at winning some homegrown grant dollars, makes doing that a little bit easier.

It’s Okay to Put the Cart Before the Horse: While it may seem logical to identify a need in your library BEFORE hunting for grant monies, sometimes locating the grant first can yield better results.  Let’s face it, most organizations offer grants, at least in part, to further their own agendas.   In addition to whatever tax benefit an organization receives for giving you their money, publically aligning themselves with certain causes can also serve as a potential shot in the arm for the donor.  The reality is that grant committees consider more than just your needs when deciding which applications to fund, they also look at which proposals best meet their needs.  Therefore when you’re hunting for a grant, try to look at it from the donor’s perspective.  Do you have a need that furthers the mission of the funding organization?  Is there a programmatic match between your library and the company donating the money?  Besides the obvious boon of philanthropy, what does the donor get from giving their money to you?  In other words, ask yourself not what this grant can do for you, but what you can do for the grant provider.

There No Such Thing as One Stop Shopping:  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something akin to a grant supermarket out there?  A free money mega store, where you could simply stroll down the “grants for great libraries” aisle, read a few labels and then fill your cart with all the items on your list!  Alas, no such place exists in either the real or virtual world.  However, what we have is even better: we have each other!  When I was asked to write this post, I spent some time thinking about where I’d found grants over the years.  Through that reflection, I realized that all of the grants I have received were brought to my attention as a result of being involved with my professional community.  Whether stumbling across a grant in the pages of School Library Journal, in a post on a library listserv, posted on one of the blogs I subscribe to or while sharing resources on twitter, it’s that involvement with my colleagues that always leads me to the best stuff.

Put Those Research Skills to Work: As research specialists, grants provide us with the opportunity to follow the very advice that we give our students every day.  Regardless of the grant you are applying for, be sure to: proofread, (you only get one chance to make a first impression and spelling and grammar mistakes do not convey professionalism), follow the donor’s instructions to the letter, (a failure to follow instructions is often the first criteria used by the donor to eliminate applicants from consideration), and, if possible, cite research that supports the program for which you are requesting funding.

Be Prepared: Back in library school, Dr. Karen Lowe told me to begin each school year by preparing  an up to date personal statement – as though I was, at that moment, applying for a grant.  Although they are sometimes called different things, every grant requires this step:  a statement (usually a few pages) dedicated to telling the donor about your school.  Most of the information they require is statistical, but sometimes you are asked to describe your school or the types of learners you serve.  What Dr. Lowe suggested turned out to be some of the best grant related advice I’ve ever received.  Each year I update this personal statement with the most recent enrollment, demographic and socioeconomic information at my disposal.  Then I spend some time thinking about my school and our learners, tweaking each descriptive element as necessary.  Then, when the grants come along, I’m ready.  An aside:  this proved very true just last year when a $6,000 grant for art related library materials was brought to my attention only 2 days before the deadline.  Thanks to Dr. Lowe’s advice, I was able to submit an application on time – and what do you know?  We got it!

Be Fierce! Joyce Valenza recently declared 2011 the “Year to be Fierce,” encouraging all school librarians to “own power, clearly define our roles, [and] design our future.” When it comes to supplementing our dwindling budgets with grant monies, we must also be fierce.  Fierce librarians never say “I can’t.”  There’s no doubt, times are tough.  But we are tougher.   So… go get ‘em!

Jennifer LaGarde (aka Library Girl!) is the Lead Media Specialist for New Hanover County Schools as well as well as the Teacher Librarian at Myrtle Grove Middle School in Wilmington, North Carolina. After 10 years as a middle school Language Arts teacher, in 2007, Jennifer traded in her red pen for a classroom with a lot more books, when she began her career as a Media Specialist/Teacher Librarian. Jennifer is a confirmed gadget girl with a penchant for reading, learning and rabble rousing who believes the world would be a better place if only it were run by librarians. When she’s not blogging, tweeting or playing Words with Friends, Jennifer can be found making mischief with her husband and two dogs.