Friday, November 25, 2011

My Grant Writing Project

Besides working on my project website for Introduction to Web Development, I am also working on a fake grant proposal in my Management of Information Agencies class.  Although I have learned so much this semester in that class, I have to admit that it is my least favorite, if only because I have done the management thing in my pre-college days.  I worked as a restaurant and a retail manager for seven years, and if I never go back to that sort of job again, it will be far too soon!

Nevertheless, the grant proposal project is quite enlightening.  We were told to choose from one of three grants that the State of Missouri offers to public, school, and/or academic libraries.  I chose the Technology Mini-Grant, which is offered to public libraries looking to upgrade or buy new technical equipment.  A lot of students, I think, are making up fake public libraries, but I chose a very real library, the Corporate Parkway Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library District in Wentzville, Missouri.  Wentzville, on the western edge of St. Charles County,  is currently the fastest growing city in Missouri.  It experienced a 321.5% growth in population from 2000 to 2010.  Of its nearly 30,000 residents, one-sixth are under the age of nine.  I looked at the Technology Plans that are listed online and found that three branches of the Library District had installed AWE Bilingual Early Literacy Stations, but not the Corporate Parkway Branch.

So far, I have completed a budget and budget narrative for the project, and now I am currently working on a five page Grant Proposal Narrative.  Thankfully, it is pretty well guided.  I only have to answer the questions on the application form.  The process takes time and thinking things through.  For instance, in order for the installation of the Early Literacy Stations to be complete, desks and chairs for the little kids must be bought and a bit of marketing (signs and brochures) has to happen as well.  Even though the Mini-Grant will only pay for the stations themselves, the State would like to know that there will be infrastructure, like children's furniture, in place to accommodate the machines and the kids who will be using them.

If I worked in a library, I would be hard-pressed not to want to apply for every little grant that might be out there.  The grants are usually specific.  Some pay for employee training, others pay for technology, still others are to be used solely for implementing a summer reading program for children.  Libraries can use all the help they can get.  It's not easy to get voters to clamor for property tax hikes, and it certainly is not easy to get the state legislature, or a college's board of trustees, to set aside extra money for library use.

So, I shall put out a challenge to all current librarians.  Look at what your library needs and try to find grants (both public and private) that can pay for what is needed.  Take the time to research it thoroughly, and if you find that it works perfectly for your library's need, take the time to apply.  Ask people who know to look over your application before you submit it.  Of course, always seek permission first from your supervisor.  Grants have been withdrawn solely because the supervisor did not authorize the grant application.

In future posts, I hope to talk more about what I learned over the summer, namely how libraries are working for the betterment of communities through social justice programs and partnering with social justice organizations.  Some of the programs a library might develop in conjunction with another community organization can funded through grants.  Something to think about!

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