BLOGS  >  MAY 21, 2024

Library Revamp - Grants and Funding


When you’re trying to make big changes to a space, it’s true that sometimes a little goes a long way. But it’s also true that things cost money. Some schools earmark funding for the library to get whatever they need. Other schools, like mine, get state funds that are funneled through the local district to purchase specific types of materials and that’s it. Other schools have zero library funding, and it’s up to them to figure it out. 

No matter your situation, I have great news for you! Where there’s a will, there’s a way to fund your big ideas. 

Local Grants

Over the years, I’ve tried all the things at least once. I’ve done fundraisers, written grants, participated in contests, begged for donations, sent out wish lists. If it was a possible source of funding, I’ve tried it. Most of them have been pretty successful, but there are some options I prefer over others. Most of the funding I’ve used for my library programming has come from grants. We have a great local foundation, The Brevard Schools Foundation, that provides grant funding for our school projects yearly. I rarely miss an opportunity to apply. Most recently, I applied for a $1,500 grant to buy four bike desks for the library and some classrooms. The bikes have been so successful that I approached our School Advisory Committee and asked for another $1,500 to buy four more so that all of our remedial reading classes would have one. In all honesty, these specific grants have more involved follow-up procedures than I prefer, but it’s a source of funding I can almost always count on. 

Bike Desks

School and Library Grants

Local grants are nice, but they aren’t available everywhere. A quick Google search will lead you to tons of grants available for schools and libraries. The lower the income level of your students and community, the more grants available to you. But even for schools that aren’t high-need, like my current school, there are still plenty out there if you search for them. Coming to a new school with zero STEM materials in its library space, I knew I needed some support, so I applied for an AASL grant and got it! It was a few thousand dollars for me to get everything I needed to get started. These grants are out there if you spend time looking. Once you find a few, put on your Used Car Salesman hat and get to work! Sell your program, and write it as if you were reading the grant and deciding who gets it. What would you want to see? What would convince you? Use those words! 

Amazon Wish Lists

My favorite source of funding is the tried-and-true Amazon wish list. Some schools aren’t allowed to use these because they’re considered crowdfunding, but I’ve had so much success with them. I’ve used wish lists when our new state award list came out to get all my copies for the next year. When moving to the high school I’m at now, I made a list of all kinds of things, and I set it up to ship right to the school. Our community really came through! More than $2,000 worth of stuff was donated – board games, baskets, pencils, STEM supplies, bulletin board materials, and even spray paint. It was magical to see all these things just showing up at school. It was so easy! Social media is a powerful tool, friends. When you build a list like this, think about the range of budgets that the people seeing it might have and include something that anyone could help with. 

Getting Creative

Other sources of funding look a little different. For example, I’ve served on our State Award Committee for choosing our books, and, because of that, I get tons and tons of books sent straight from the publishers. Those can be put into my collection to help my budget reach farther. I’ve volunteered to be on other committees to get products for my space. I reach out to our business partners, and I’ve gotten volunteers and donations for all kinds of things – everything from author visits to food for open house nights. I enter online giveaways, and occasionally I win. I’ve shopped thrift stores and garage sales for cool things for my space. I enter my students in contests, like the former Follett Challenge, to earn products for my program. Because I exhaust every other source of funding first, when I do go to my administrators and ask for financial support for something, it’s usually an easy “yes” for them. 

Speaking of Follett, did you know they have a funding resources site that offers comprehensive guides to funding and grant opportunities? Check it out!

I know it may seem like you need a robust budget to do great things for kids, but you really don’t. It just takes some creative thinking and the willingness to risk a “no” to possibly get a big “yes.”

About the Author:

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Carrie Friday
Media Specialist/Librarian
Melbourne High School, Melbourne, FL

Carrie Friday is the Media Specialist at Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Florida, a 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year Finalist for Brevard Public Schools, a 2019-2020 Space Coast Public Service Heavy Lifter award winner and was named a 2022 Woman Who Rocks for her community. She isn’t afraid to take risks and will do just about anything to encourage the love of literacy and learning in students and teachers. 

She is a co-founder of the #swms20bookchallenge. Carrie is a Follett Community contributor and has presented best practices at the district level, FAME, AASL, FETC, and the Future Ready Librarians® Summit. She’s hosted webinars on Makerspace, the #swms20bookchallenge, and advocacy. Mrs. Friday’s library program was awarded the designation of a Florida Power Library School by the Florida Department of Education and she has appeared on the Librarian Influencers podcast and School Librarians United podcast. She has served on the Florida SSYRA Award committee, FAME Conference committee as Author Chair, and currently serves on the Florida Association of Media in Education Board of Directors and Florida Teens Read Committee. She believes in innovation, collaboration, and the power of really good books. 

She is also a wife to a rocket scientist and mom to the sweetest two girls you’ll ever meet. She loves Gilmore Girls, Pinterest, coffee, and porch swings. She is a proud graduate of Auburn University. War Eagle!

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