Samantha Kennedy receives AASL Inspire Collection Development Grant

For Immediate Release
Mon, 05/18/2020


Jennifer Habley

AASL Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)


CHICAGO – Samantha Kennedy, school librarian at Dunedin High School in Dunedin, Florida, 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.

With the grant funds, Kennedy plans to add student-requested books to the romance, horror, and graphic novel genres. Graphic novels and manga titles were weeded out of Dunedin’s collection by a predecessor but have now become the top circulating section. Kennedy will also use the grant to grow African American, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQIA+, and Women collections to support underrepresented readers. She will expand under-populated nonfiction sections.

Said AASL President Mary Keeling, “Samantha Kennedy of Dunedin High School is rebuilding her library collection practically from scratch, starting from a shockingly small collection that is one-tenth the size recommended by the state. She is to be commended for using this grant to acquire books requested by students and materials that represent her diverse student body as well as support the instructional goals of the school.”

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 The other three recipients are all working on growing their outdated and small collections to better represent the diversity in their school communities.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.