Inspire Collection Development Grant

Sponsored by Marina "Marney" Welmers

Monetary Amount: up to $5,000

Deadline: Februrary 1

Apply Now


Through the generous donation of Marina “Marney” Welmers, an AASL member and retired middle school librarian, AASL is pleased to offer the Inspire Collection Development Grant, a grant so that an existing public middle or high school can extend, update, and diversify the book, online, subscription and/or software collections in their library in order to realize sustainable improvement in student achievement at their school. Purchasing can include books, online subscriptions and/or software collections, as well as accessibility extensions (hotspots, increased bandwidth, etc.).  The program is to satisfy the need to establish or supplement traditional print or online resources in the school library setting in order to realize sustainable improvement in student achievement at their school.

The Fund is $20,000 per year. The direct assistance grant shall be capped at $5,000. At least four grants per year will be awarded with the total number of grants determined by number of applicants, geographic distribution, and total unmet need as determined by the Jury. Of the total, at least two (2) grants up to $5,000 per year will be awarded to a public middle or high school that has 85% or more of its student population qualified for Free/Reduced Lunch (FRL) program.


  1. The applicant must be a publicly funded middle or high school, grades 5-12, and have an existing campus library. Each library, regardless of the variety of constituents it may serve, is limited to submission of one application.
  2. The grant is awarded to individual schools, not to districts; all schools in a given district are welcome to apply if they meet the criteria, but each school must submit an application that is specific to their needs.

  3. Private, parochial, independent, and home schools are not eligible. Charter schools can apply if they are publicly funded.

  4. The public middle or high school library must be located in the United States, with one staff position being held by a certified school librarian.

  5. If the school does not have a certified school librarian on campus staff, the applicant can still apply if there is a certified school librarian available at the district or regional level who will work with the school on the selection of materials to be purchased. Regional level may include service centers or equivalent, university faculty, or staff of neighboring school districts. It is expected that a certified school librarian at the campus, district, or regional level be involved in the selection or materials to be purchased.

  6. The school principal must agree to submission of the Inspire Collection Development Grant. 

  7. The school and/or the certified school librarian do not have to be a member of ALA, AASL, or any other ALA division to apply; however, the jury may take membership into consideration when determining grant awards.

  8. Schools that have 85% or more of its student population qualified for Free Reduced Lunch (FRL) program should include this information in their application to receive additional consideration by the Jury.

  9. The Jury may take the school’s geographic location into consideration when determining grant awards.

  10. Funds can be used to purchase:
    -  Books, whether they are hardbound print or a Braille volume
    -  Audiobook on audiotape or CD-ROM, or an e-book to be added to either the circulating or reference section of the school library collection 
    -  Magazine/serial copies or subscriptions
    -  DVD or videotape movie versions of books or plays
    -  Accessibility extensions (hotspots, increased bandwidth, etc.)
    -  Funds can be used to purchase materials that are pre-processed when they come from the vendor 

  11. The following cannot not be funded by the grant: separate processing, for any processing service, or for salaries or stipends for individuals processing books in the school system, furniture, shelving, classroom sets of books, collections of books stored in closets, or collections of books on rolling carts of any kind, student/teacher guides to the book (in print or other media), a test/quiz/workbook, exercise book or commentary on the book, any software related to the book, or electronic book reader.

  12. Institutions represented by Inspire Collection Development Grant Jury can be eligible to apply, but committee members must recuse themselves from the discussion and voting or decline if they have a conflict of interest.

  13. The school library must be a first-time recipient of the Inspire Collection Development Grant.  All previous recipients are ineligible to apply.

  14. The school principal must agree to submission of the Inspire Collection Development Grant. The grant does not require that the district, the county, the state, or any other agency approve the application. AASL encourages the school to check with the district office regarding any pertinent grant application policies or regulations it may have.

  15. Within one year of receiving a grant, recipients are required to submit a report describing how this grant impacted the school library program. The report should include receipts on how the funds were allocated. If photographs or images are part of the project, the report must include digital copies of all release-signed photographs. (These reports could be posted, with permission of the recipient, on the AASL website, and on any other ALA website/webpage or ALA publication as requested by ALA.)

  16. Grant recipients must spend grant funds within the school year following the year in which the grant was given.


The Inspire Collection Development Fund Jury will evaluate the applicant based on the following criteria:

  1. The quality of the benefits this grant will bring to the community.
  2. A project plan that includes a timeline, budget, and clarity of purpose.

  3. Rankings based on a rubric that correlates with the ratings sheet.

Download Criteria & Rating Sheets pdf icon

Download Copy of Application 

* Please note: This downloadable version is for informational purposes only. All applications must be submitted online, via the Apply Now button that will appear at the top of the page when the award is open.


Allison Cline email icon
Deputy Executive Director


Year Recipient School  
2021* Cindy Buerkle Otselic Valley Central School
South Otselic, New York
"The Otselic Valley School Community is truly grateful to Marina “Marney” Welmers and AASL for the Inspire COVID Recovery grant funds. Otselic Valley Library lost approximately 400 Grade 5-12 books due to COVID. Increased access to online library resources has become essential. These grant funds will be used to replace books lost due to COVID, create a more robust digital book collection, and add titles to support struggling readers and social emotional growth. The covid situation highlighted and magnified these collection development needs. Thank you so much for your insight and generosity to help us recover and revitalize our collection to meet the diverse needs of our students!"  
2021* Taylor Inverarity Turner Middle School
Kansas City, Kansas
"Turner Middle School is incredibly excited to accept this award. After years of carefully developing our library collection, we were devastated by the losses that came with COVID. We lost at least 655 items in the Spring of 2020, including 186 brand-new books. These funds will allow us to offer a more equitable collection that is diverse, representative, inclusive, and up to date. We will specifically be focusing on nonfiction materials and growing our manga collection. The students will be ecstatic next year to see the new materials! Thank you!"  
2021* Amanda Jones Live Oak Middle School
Denham, Louisiana
"I am beyond grateful to receive the AASL Inspire COVID Recovery Grant for the Live Oak Middle Library. With this grant money, we can begin to grow back our collection from the loss of books we incurred during school building closures. Thank you to Ms. Marnie Welmers for her continued support to school librarians and school libraries across the United States. Words alone are not enough to express our sincere gratitude. "  
2021* Chari Kauffman North Shore Middle School
Houston, Texas
"Thank you so much for awarding the AASL Inspire Covid Recovery Grant to North Shore Middle School in Houston, TX. We are so excited to be able to replenish our collection! After not returning to school after spring break in 2020, we lost over 700 books for a total value of over $11,000. We plan to use this funding to replace brand new inventory that was not returned and to replace collection staples and to continue building our ebook collection. What a blessing to us! This grant is greatly appreciated. "  
2021* DeAnna Arnold Wheeler Attendance Center
Booneville, MS
"Wheeler Attendance Center Library is so excited to be a recipient of the AASL Inspire COVID Recovery Grant.  The students and I are excited to be able to purchase more eBooks!!! Since the Pandemic, students have been unable to borrow books from the library. Every student has a device whether Chromebook or iPad. The eBooks allow all students to read from anywhere at any time.  The students have been utilizing the few eBooks the library has available. Quarantine and virtual education won't stop us!! We cannot wait to get the books ordered!!!"  
2021* Rebecca Caufman Radford High School
Radford, VA
"At the time of being awarded the Inspired COVID Recovery Grant in November 2020, the Radford High and Dalton Intermediate School Library had over 400 overdue or lost books in the collection.  That is why we are thrilled to have been chosen as a recipient of this grant, which will be used to clear student accounts and replace our most popular titles.  As a first-year librarian, this grant provides me with a clean slate from which to build positive relationships with students.  Thank you AASL and the grant selection team for providing this special offering during these challenging times!"  
2021* Ginger Cowart Natchez High School
Natchez, MS
"Being the Library Media Specialist at Natchez High School during this COVID year has been concerning at best. Students who are learning virtually or on a hybrid schedule leaves little to no time for library visits. These grant funds will allow NHS to add eBooks and audio books to our library collection. In addition, it supports updating the collection as a whole. Thank you for helping our students have equitable access to current, meaningful reading material.
2021* Marissa Deku Lewiston High School
Lewiston, ME
"Books changed my life. As a struggling student, learning to read drastically changed my life and opened my eyes to the greater world around me. I became a school librarian because of the care and influence the librarians in my life had on me over the years. When I joined the staff at my alma mater in August 2019, I never imagined what the school year would bring. Now we find ourselves struggling to serve and to provide for our students in this new learning environment. Twenty-seven percent of our students are English Language Learners. I empathize with their struggles and I know access to books will change their worlds. It is a necessity to replace items lost due to the COVID19 closure and our community is beyond grateful for this grant which will allow us to rebuild our collection for today and tomorrow.”  
2021* Alice Lang South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind
Spartanburg, SC
"The SC School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation is grateful to have another opportunity to fulfill its mission of providing benefits to students at the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind. 'The Inspire COVID Replacement Grant represents a great partnership with the American Association of School Librarians to help our library replace valuable books, DVDs and other resources that were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will make a world of difference for our teachers in helping our sensory disabled students to achieve the necessary reading levels to excel in their classes and become successful after graduation. Thank you for helping us to build brighter futures for exceptional children,' said Samuel Hook, Executive Director.

Our library staff are especially thrilled by receiving the AASL grant. 'We are so thankful to have received a COVID Recovery Grant from AASL. Thanks to AASL’s generosity, our special needs students will have access to books in accessible formats. They will be able to read the same classics as well as leisure materials as their sighted peers. Thank you for helping us replace our lost materials. We sincerely appreciate the support AASL has provided to our library,' said Galena Gaw, Certified Media Specialist."

2021* Marie Southwell Graphic Arts Campus Library
New York, NY
"On behalf of the Graphic Arts Campus Library,  Stephen T Mather HS, Business of Sports HS, and Urban Assembly Gateway HS, and my co-conspirators, I am excited to receive this award. This grant will allow our students to continue growing through a choice-driven independent reading initiative in ELA classrooms. These resources will enable the literacy initiative to continue to grow and develop a strong library partnership between classroom teachers and the school librarian. I also want to thank these professional organizations for helping me develop my school library practice: NYCDOE Office of Library Services; NYC School Librarians Association; New York Library Association, School Library Section; and the American Library Association, AASL and YASLA sections."  
2021* Emily Wilson West Port High School
Ocala, FL
"Thank you to the American Association of School Librarians and the Inspire COVID Recovery Grant Committee for making it possible to help rebuild the collection at West Port High School that was decimated when school closed suddenly in March 2020.  The Inspire COVID Recovery Grant will help replace books that were lost and help purchase more electronic books that can be accessed from wherever the learning is taking place.  These print and electronic resources will help support students, teachers, and classrooms during this challenging time."  

2020 Denise Gadson Woodland High School
Dorchester, SC
2020 Pamela Hubert Brooks County High School
Quitman, GA
2020 Samantha Kennedy Dunedin High School
Dunedin, FL
2020 Ali Lauer Griffith STEAM Magnet Middle School
Los Angeles, CA
2020 Brittany Tignor Snow Hill High School
Snow Hill, MD
2019 Sean Casey Northeast Middle School
Minneapolis, Minnesota
2019 Melissa Iamonico Sprain Brook Academy
Valhalla, New York
2019 Lauren Mabry Andrew Lewis Middle School
Salem, Virginia
2019 Holly Schwarzmann Largo Middle School
Largo, Florida
2019 Ness Shortley Horton Middle School
Pittsboro, North Carolina
2019 Mae-Lynn Smith Great Oaks Charter School Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware
2018 Carolyn Bushey I.C. Norcom High School
Portsmouth, Virginia
2018 LeAnn Dowty Kingsbury Middle School
Memphis, Tennessee
2018 Cynthia Johnson Longleaf Middle School
Columbia, South Carolina
2018 Shannon Knowlton Poplar Middle School
Poplar, Montana
2018 Samantha Marker Samuel M. Ridgway Middle School
Edgewater Park, New Jersey
2018 Stacy Udo Olympia High School
Olympia, Washington
2017 Jeanna Wersebe El Camino High School
Oceanside, California
2017 Haley Walters George Washington High School
Danville, Virginia
2017 Michelle Kruse Roosevelt Middle School
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2017 Laura Long Highland School of Technology
Gastonia, North Carolina
2017 Maria Ornes Kagman High School
Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
2017 Christina Gavin Jane Addams Campus Library
New York, New York
2016 Kelly Beckham Kannapolis Middle School
Kannapolis, North Carolina
2016 Cheryl Goff Carrie D. Kendrick Middle School
Jonesboro, Georgia
2016 Shanna Miles South Atlanta High School
Atlanta, Georgia
2016 Leigh Morlock Jefferson High School Middle College for Advanced Studies
Portland, Oregon
2016 Chalice Tillis Abbeville High School
Abbeville, Alabama


*Inspire COVID Recovery Grants were offered in two rounds during the 2021 award year from the Inspire Collection Development Grant program.