Ali Lauer receives AASL Inspire Collection Development Grant

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/19/2020


Jennifer Habley

AASL Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)


CHICAGO – Ali Lauer, school librarian at Griffith STEAM Magnet Middle School in Los Angeles, California, is one of five school librarians from across the country receiving a 2020 American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) Inspire Collection Development Grant. Made possible by the generosity of AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers, the grant program provides funds for public middle or high school libraries to update their existing collections to enhance student learning.

When Lauer became the school librarian at Griffith, she inherited a library that had been closed to student use for thirteen years. The collection had been neglected and unsupervised, and the most desirable books were “checked out permanently” when teachers brought classes to the library. When Lauer analyzed the collection, she found it lacked books by authors representing diverse races, religions, or abilities. Students were unable to find stories about children with various national origins, immigration statuses, or who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or nonbinary. Lauer plans to use the grant funds to purchase fiction that reaches students where they are, honors their interests and identities, and entices them further in their reading journey. 

“Ali Lauer has identified the steps she needs to take to tailor the school library collection to the needs of the learners at Griffith STEAM Magnet Middle School,” said AASL President Mary Keeling. “This grant provides much-needed support to secure graphic novels and diverse literature to engage and inspire readers.”

The Inspire Collection Development Grant provides funds to extend, update, and diversify a school’s book, online, subscription, and/or software collections to improve student achievement. Public school libraries may apply for up to $5,000, and up to $20,000 per year is awarded annually. 

“We received a record number of strong applications, but after careful review, the committee selected five recipients,” said Nicolle Mazzola, grant committee chair. “The awarded programs will use the grant funds in a multitude of ways to support their school communities. One school elicited feedback from a student advisory council to ensure that student voice and choice were represented in the growing collection, while another designed a program that would have students take ownership of their learning. The other three recipients are all working on growing their outdated and small collections to better represent the diversity in their school communities. The committee would like to once again thank Marney for continuing to support librarians with this grant. Her incredible generosity will have a lasting impact on these communities as they continue to build and grow their libraries.”

“Each of the grant projects demonstrates the importance of curation in today’s school libraries,” said Keeling. “The school librarians have identified a learning need and developed a plan to address it through their school library’s collection; these are highly personalized solutions to local needs. We are exceedingly grateful to Marney Welmers for her continued financial support of the grant program. Through her generosity, AASL can support this important work throughout our nation.”

The AASL award winners will be honored during a virtual AASL Awards Ceremony during the fall of 2020. The virtual ceremony will replace the live ceremony traditionally presented during the ALA Annual Conference. Out of concern for the health and safety of all members of the community, the ALA Executive Board felt it was important to cancel the 2020 conference taking place in Chicago. Details for the virtual ceremony will be shared as they are finalized. 

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.