2023-2024 School Library Access Mini-Grant Applications for Elementary and Secondary Schools Open January, 2023!
School libraries play a vital role in ensuring Idaho’s students learn and continually develop strong literacy skills from their earliest grades, throughout their academic careers, and beyond. Unfortunately, many Idaho schools haven’t had the resources to allow students in developmental preschool programs, kindergarten, and even first grade, the years they are learning to read, to check out books to take home. Students in many secondary schools have a selection of dated materials that do not meet their recreational or academic reading needs. To help school libraries provide students access to the books they need, the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) is offering mini-grants to Idaho’s publicly funded elementary and secondary schools.
The 2022-2023 school year will see teachers and librarians connecting with students in a variety of combinations of in-person and remote learning to help kids make progress that may have been lost during the pandemic. With that in mind, now more than ever it is important for all students to have fingertip access to lots of engaging reading material.
Decades of research and empirical evidence shows a strong school library collection is linked with higher achievement in reading and other subjects, including math. Add the fact that for many students the school library is the only library where they can count on finding books to take home to read, and it becomes clear that a well-funded school library is essential for student success.
The 2012 Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Plan states: “School libraries should have a minimum of 20 books per child to enable children to take multiple books home at each visit. This figure also takes into consideration the needs of teachers to have access to quality trade books to support standards and curriculum. In addition, it is recommended that…two new books per child should be added to the school library collection each year to allow for the addition of important new titles. Books and other literary materials must be updated annually…. Research suggests that at least five to eight books per child are necessary to support choice and motivation to read.”
Data from the ICfL’s September 2012 Public Elementary School Library Study by Boise State University literacy professor Dr. Roger Stewart shows that most school districts spend very little if anything on reading materials for their elementary school libraries. The 2021 average price for a new hardback children’s nonfiction book is $19.83 (School Library Journal, 2/2021), and the average price of a new library bound children’s nonfiction book is $27.89 (School Library Journal, 2/21). Dr. Stewart’s study found that 62 percent of Idaho elementary school libraries reported annual book budgets from their districts of under $1,000 – which would purchase a maximum of 50 hardbound books. Twenty-eight percent had budgets of under $100 – which would purchase a maximum of five books. These numbers fall extremely short of the Literacy Plan’s recommendations.
Since 2012, this situation hasn’t changed much. Most Idaho school libraries have insufficient budgets to provide quality, age-appropriate books for their students to either read at school or take home. With at least a third of Idaho school children qualifying for free or reduced lunch, many of them are not likely to have age-appropriate reading material at home. The result: many Idaho children do not have access to enough reading materials to become proficient readers, the basis required for all other learning.
Congratulations to the 2022-2023 SLA Mini-Grant Recipients!
$200,000 was awarded to 41 elementary and secondary school libraries from all corners of Idaho to purchase books for the school library’s collection and to get more books into the hands of Idaho’s students!
Interested in applying? Watch for the 2023-2024 SLA Mini-Grant applications for Early and Elementary Literacy and for Secondary Schools to open in January, 2023.
ICfL received 29 applications requesting a total of $126,000 and awarded $116,000 in Elementary School Library Mini-Grant funds. Awards range from $2,000 to $5,000 at 27 grantee sites across the state. Schools with developmental preschool programs on campus and larger proportions of students from lower-income families were given highest priority. This year every qualifying application was funded!
For a map of the 2020-2021 school sites, click here.
ICfL received 64 applications requesting a total of $230,000 and was able to award $200,000 in Elementary School Library Mini-Grant funds—ranging from $1,000 to $5,000—to 46 schools. Those with developmental preschool programs on school grounds and high levels of students from lower-income families were given highest priority.
The Idaho Legislature approved a one-time increase of $100,000 for school library Mini-grants. ICfL received 80 applications requesting a total of $314,000 and was able to award $200,000 in grant funds—ranging from $1,000 to $5,000—to 49 schools. Those with developmental preschool programs on school grounds and high levels of students from lower-income families were given highest priority.
ICfL received 59 applications this year, requesting a total of $242,000. Schools that had developmental preschool programs on school grounds and high levels of student poverty were ranked highest. Grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 were awarded to 23 elementary schools.
The Idaho Commission for Libraries received mini-grant applications for the School Library Access mini-grants from 88 elementary schools requesting over $325,000 in funding support. We had $100,000 to award for improving access to print; $17,000 was awarded to several public libraries to start or expand deposit collections to increase access to print in daycare and Head Start centers and 20 elementary schools will receive grant funds ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.