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ALA’s Awards and Grants Can Give Your Library a Boost

by on June 8, 2017

If your library is like mine, your list of expenses is growing while funding is either stagnant or trending down. That’s why we are enthusiastic about any sources of nontraditional revenue, no matter how modest. One option for providing a small boost for your library or staff is to apply for a lesser-known grant from the American Library Association. From paying for Annual Conference attendance to funding materials or events, there is an array of options to consider.

Since grants, in general, tend to fund new-and-improved services, it’s not surprising that there are options designed to help your library address a particular need. The Loleta D. Fyan award is a great example. Its purpose is “…the development and improvement of public libraries and the services they provide.” The award funds something replicable or otherwise applicable beyond the local level that is innovative and future-oriented, and it’s worth up to $5,000.00. If you think that sounds current and trendy, you’ll be impressed to know that Fyan was ALA president in the early 1950s. A less intuitive option is the H.W. Wilson Library Staff Development Grant. This requires a fairly typical grant application with objectives, a budget, project timeline, and evaluation plan so this would take a bit of planning. However, if you have ambitious staff-development goals, this could help to pay for group materials, a consultant, or other expenses.

As mentioned above, there are several grants that will pay a flat amount toward attending ALA’s Annual Conference. One of the most general is the EBSCO ALA Conference Sponsorship which is open to any degreed librarian who doesn’t supervise other librarians; it reimburses actual expenses up to $1,000.00. Other conference grants may have varying specific requirements, including the Shirley Olofson Memorial Award and the MANGO/NMRT Professional Development Grant, both of which require membership in the New Members Round Table. The Baker and Taylor Conference Grant is open only to librarians who work directly with young adults.

In addition to scoping out the list of grants and fellowships, you might also want to see if you or your library has a recent accomplishment fit for a professional recognition award. If that you are short on time, try visiting the web pages of the specific ALA divisions or round tables most of interest to you. The site’s left side bar will likely have a category that includes the subject, “Awards,” which will link only to the awards given by that group. Also, check out ALA’s Public Programs Office. This office awards programming opportunities, including traveling exhibitions, through a competitive process.

These grants and awards can be just the thing to help you break out of a rut, grow your staff, make a new project a possibility, or recognize the progress you’ve made.


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