Support for Our School

Q. I'm a part time school librarian, in a rural area.  The local PTO would like to help me gain more funding for our school library. Do you have any ideas or resources I can share with them?

A. Real success in gaining more funding will require working on several fronts at once.  First, engage in advocacy for the school library itself.  This entails working with the school board and administration to reinforce the educational value of the school library.  We're in a tough budgeting environment at all levels, but keeping the facts on the value of the school library should maintain funding now --and help you build the case to increase it when there are funds available.

Second, work with the parents so that they understand the library's collection needs.  There should be a collection development policy to ensure that the collection includes materials of all types that support both curriculum needs and general reading for the students.  If you do a book drive, you will need this policy to guide what you ask for ... or more importantly, what types of donated books might be sold rather than included in the collection. The sales might help with the acquisition of electronic materials for students' research efforts.

Finally, engage in creative fundraising.  You know best what kinds of fundraisers might work in your community, but the experience of others might prove useful to you.  For an extensive set of resources on fundraising, please check the ALA Library Fact Sheet 24 - Library Fund Raising: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, with subsections on grants and grantwriting and tips on using the Internet to raise funds.



How about referring to sites like the School Library Exchange? We just ran this blurb in our state library eNewsletter:

School libraries are a great learning resource for students, but they need help. The School Library Exchange makes it easy for parents and other donors to contribute books to school library collections. The new site, which went live earlier this month, helps connect libraries with parents, publishers, community groups, and corporations—anyone willing to donate to a good cause.
How does it work? Register, login, and submit your school library to the site. After verification, you can customize your school page and add book requests donors can access. Librarians add book requests which users can browse to donate books, purchased or contributed from their personal collections, to any school on the site. Visit for more information and to sign up.