Frequently under-funded for reasons that include fund shortfalls at the local government level or a lack of appreciation for the importance of the library to the community, public libraries fall back on donations, endowments and grants to close the financial gap. The American Library Association and the Public Library Association administer a number of grants for institutions or individuals who choose to support libraries. Typically, grants go to outstanding programs or exceptional individual librarians and library workers.
Polaris Innovation in Technology John Iliff Award
The John Iliff Award, named for an early proponent of the use of technology in public libraries, recognizes a library, librarian or library worker who uses technology to improve services to patrons. The award, presented at the American Library Association’s annual conference, includes a cash grant, a plaque and a bouquet for the library. The cash grant awards the individual or library for innovative thinking and the bouquet serves as a thank you to the library for creating a supportive environment.
H.W. Wilson Library Staff Development Grant
The H.W. Wilson Library Staff Development Grant includes a cash award and gold-framed plaque. The grant, given to libraries that present the best case for a need for a staff development program that furthers the goals of the library, is open to individual libraries, library systems and local or governmental organizations that support libraries. Programs must be well-defined, show a clear contribution to the library’s mission and document the need for the program for consideration.
Romance Writers of America Library Grant
The Romance Writers of America Library Grant, intended to expand a library’s romance fiction collection and to support author events in the library, consists of a cash award for use in buying romance novels, reimbursing authors for travel expenses and other romance-related activities. Librarians at public libraries of any size who wish to apply for the grant must show a viable plan for increasing awareness of the genre among staff, hosting readings or creating study materials. Preference is given to libraries with financial needs or those in disaster areas that need to replace their collections.
Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums
Sparks! grants, administered by the Institute of Library and Museum Services, address the problems or needs of libraries that have broad relevance to the institution and that test solutions to those problems. Those solutions must be replicable for other institutions. Examples of these projects include implementing systems that reduce costs, creating new software tools for use in libraries and exploring methods that enhance the library’s interaction with patrons. Grants may be used for any expenses related to the project.
Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.