Apr 30 2008

Grants and Awards for Individuals

Published by rachel at 11:48 am under funding

by Stephanie Gerding

There are many grants available to individuals in the library field. Depending the type of funding you are seeking, some are not even very competitive. If you are seeking financing for research projects, fellowships, or degrees, you will frequently be up against a lot of applicants; however, if you want funding for conferences, workshops, or other continuing education opportunities, you are in luck. Library staff can find many of these types of grants and awards, and fewer people tend to pursue these possibilities. These types of applications are also relatively straightforward, although some may be time-consuming and require follow-up reports.

When completing grant proposals or award applications, follow the guidelines explicitly and answer all the questions. If there is a legitimate reason why you can’t respond to a specific question or request for information, acknowledge the request and explain why you didn’t respond. Make it easy for the grant reviewer to find the information requested by following the same format and headings as the application, and make your proposal easy to read. Avoid jargon and spell out any abbreviations or acronyms; do not presume that all readers share your knowledge of library related terminology. Unless you know that your peers will be reviewing the proposal, write for the educated layperson.

There are two major types of grant funding available, government and private. I’ll describe and give links to online resources for both of these categories.

Government grant resources
Government funders can be federal agencies or departments, state agencies, or local governmental bodies such as counties, cities, towns, or villages.

Federal agencies
Grants.gov is the single access point for more than 1,000 government grant programs from all federal agencies, with approximately $400 billion awarded each year. Grants.gov is searchable by keyword, category, or agency, and you can limit your search to include only grants for which individuals are eligible. An advanced search option allows combinations of these fields as well as limitations by date, eligibility, and status of grant opportunity. Subscribe to email alerts by funding opportunity number, category, agency, and other advanced criteria to receive customized grant opportunities to your email account as they become available. Key government sites you should check regularly for library grants are the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and your state library agency. (Grants to individuals are only a small portion of those available.)

State libraries and state agencies
State libraries are the official agencies charged with statewide library development and the administration of federal funds authorized by the Library Services and Technology Act. Find your state library at http://www.imls.gov/programs/libraries.shtm.) I once administered a statewide continuing education program for a state library which provided $1,000 awards to attend conferences out of state, and seriously could not give this money away. I got very few applicants, usually well under 10 a year, and funded almost everyone that applied. Many state libraries have similar funding available, which is an excellent opportunity to attend a national library conference such as PLA, ALA, or Internet Librarian.

Other state agencies that might provide grants include your State Humanities Council, your State Arts Council, and your State Department of Education. Your local city or town may have professional development opportunities as well.

Private grant resources
While government grant resources are driven primarily by legislation, private grant resources have their own funding interests and priorities. Examples of private funders are professional associations, foundations, corporations, social organizations, and clubs. The Grantsmanship Center maintains information about your state’s foundations, community foundations, corporate giving programs and the top 40 foundations that give in your state.

Professional associations
Professional associations are one of the best sources available to find funding for members, and librarians have many professional associations from which to choose. Grants, awards, and scholarships are available from the American Library Association (ALA), the Public Library Association (PLA), the Special Libraries Association (SLA), regional and state library associations, the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL), and more. Access the Awards & Scholarships tab on the ALA website to browse over 150 awards, scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Be aware that some of the awards require nomination by someone other than yourself, so you might want to make sure your coworkers and supervisor are aware of exceptional projects or other accomplishments.

Your regional association website (such as Mountain Plains, New England, Pacific Northwest, Southeastern, Guam, or Virgin Islands) will list scholarships and grants, mainly for professional development and attending their regional conference. ALA maintains a list of all the regional chapters with links to their websites:

The best source for finding grants from foundations is through the Foundation Center. Foundation Center Cooperating Collections are free funding information centers that provide a core collection of materials published by the Foundation Center. These collections focus on private funding sources and are located in libraries or nonprofit information centers; find the Cooperating Collection nearest you by following your state’s link. Many Cooperating Collections contain the Foundation Directory Online or on CD-ROM in addition to numerous print directories. Using the online and CD-ROM directories allows you to search multiple fields simultaneously, and can save you time.

State libraries and college and university libraries generally provide additional funding directories and research tools. Don’t forget to look for a state specific or community-specific funding directory or database for your area. These local resources often contain opportunities that you will not find in the national directories. Community foundations will have many resources that will be useful to you in researching local grant opportunities.

Corporations operating in your area may have community giving programs, or may offer other help in supporting your needs. Visit websites of local corporations for information about their priorities, grant guidelines, and deadlines.

Clubs and organizations
Research your local community directory and look at Michigan State University’s list of service clubs and civic organizations that provide funding for ideas. Your yellow pages, library friends group, and staff may also help identify local clubs and organizations that provide funding. For example, the Rotary Foundation has a $3,000 grant for individuals to travel internationally to provide volunteer service.

Online resources

Library Grants Blog
Pam MacKellar and Stephanie Gerding maintain the Library Grants Blog, a free website with regularly posted new grant opportunities for libraries and librarians.

Michigan State University Libraries’ Grants for Individuals
Compiled by staff at the Michigan State University Libraries, this useful list gives information on grants available to individuals covering a wide range of subject areas. Especially note the Library and Information Science category

American Library Association
Over 150 awards, scholarships, grants, and fellowships available to members.

Public Library Association
Currently offers seven service awards and three grant opportunities.

American Association of Law Librarians
Research grants, conference grants, scholarships, achievement and professional development awards are available. You have to poke around their website a bit, as some are listed under various headings. There are also grants offered from chapters and special interest groups, such as the Government Documents Special Interest Section Veronica Maclay Travel Grant.

International Opportunities and Funding Sources for Librarians
Maintained by the IRRT international exchanges committee, this site includes opportunities such as awards for lecturing or conducting research abroad, and librarian exchanges.

Medical Library Association
MLA offers a variety of scholarships and grants to assist qualified students in graduate library science programs and to enable practicing health sciences librarians to take advantage of opportunities for continuing professional development.

Special Libraries Association
SLA’s Scholarship and Grants program provides awards for graduate study leading to a Master’s Degree, graduate study leading to a Ph.D., and post-M.L.S. study, as well as grants for research projects for the advancement of library sciences, the support of programs developed by SLA Chapters, Divisions, or Committees, and the support of the Association’s expanding international agenda.

Foundation Grants to Individuals Online
An online subscription-based database with more than 6,000 grantmaker programs giving to individuals. Check your local library to see if they have a subscription. All Foundation Center libraries and Cooperating Collections (locations available in every state) provide free public access to the print version of Foundation Grants to Individuals, and some may have the online version as well.

Print resources

Gerding, Stephanie and MacKellar, Pamela. (2006) Grants for Libraries: A How-To-Do-It Manual and CD-ROM for Librarians. New York, Neal-Schuman. ISBN: 978-1-55570-535-0
This practical guide presents an easy-to-follow grant process cycle-planning for success; discovering and designing projects; organizing the team; researching and selecting the right funder; creating and submitting the proposal; securing funds and implementing the project; reviewing and continuing the process. The important and sometimes challenging components of grant applications are covered. Managing the project, building partnerships, conducting meetings, and following up on the application are covered in detail. A unique Grants for Libraries Toolkit includes full-size reproductions of the charts, worksheets, and checklists featured throughout the book. The CD-ROM reproduces the entire toolkit (in Word format for easy printing and customization), sample grant applications, and example grant proposals. Sixteen success stories share experience and advice from successful libraries and provide inspiration and models for projects and success stories. Experienced and novice librarians, students, administrators and anyone who seeks or uses grant funding will find invaluable and practical guidance.

Foundation Grants to Individuals, 16th Edition, July 2007. ISBN: 978-1-59542-137-8.
Includes over 6,600 entries with current information for individual grantseekers-Foundation Name, Address, Contact, Program Description, Grant Amount, Application Guidelines, and more. The directory includes corporate giving programs in additional to information on foundations that award funds for educational support, arts and cultural support, awards, international applications, research, and professional support.

Annual Register of Grant Support: A Directory of Funding Sources. 41st ed. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2008. ISBN: 978-1-57387-292-8.
Lists more than 3,500 grant-giving organizations. Grant Support 2008 is organized by 11 major subject areas-with 61 specific subcategories-which allows for researching and uncovering a full range of available grant sources. It includes traditional corporate, private, and public funding programs, and also nontraditional grant sources such as educational associations and unions. Includes information on eligibility requirements and restrictions, application procedures and deadlines, grant size or range, contact information, and much more.

Good luck!

Best of luck in your grant writing endeavors! Just remember that grant writing is really about answering questions and building relationships. The research skills you have as a librarian will be of great help. Feel free to contact me at sgerding@mindspring.com.

Stephanie Gerding is a librarian, author, and library consultant. She presents workshops around the country on grants, training, and technology topics. Having done a variety of training during her library career for all types of libraries-school, public, academic, and special, Stephanie has presented at national conferences and conducted training across the United States, from Seattle to Florida, Maine to Hawaii, and many places in between. She has been on both sides of the grant process, having both written and reviewed grants. Stephanie’s first book, Grants for Libraries, was published by Neal-Schuman and received a starred review in Library Journal. Her second book, The Accidental Technology Trainer, was published by Information Today in Oct. 2007. Stephanie was the “Bringing in the Money” columnist for the Public Library Association’s Public Libraries magazine for the last two years. She co-authors the Library Grants Blog, which lists grant announcements for libraries in one easy-to-access location.

Formerly a trainer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Library Program, Stephanie worked with many public libraries, either traveling to their site or conducting week-long train-the-trainer programs in Seattle. She has also managed statewide library training programs at New Mexico and Arizona State Libraries. She managed a corporate library as a systems administrator; worked for SIRSI as a traveling trainer; and taught web-based distance education technology courses on information literacy and online learning for NorthCentral University. Stephanie has a Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Tennessee.

One Response to “Grants and Awards for Individuals”

  1. Margaret Mathaion 04 May 2008 at 12:19 am


    I am long time librarian with experience of close to 20 years mostly in Africa at national and regional level. I am struggling to get funding for a immigrant and refugee families that have LEP and no English at all.I am experienced in grant writing and have done so successfuly in the past. However, with no past record of performance or structure to show potential donors it is virtually impossible to convince anyone that supporting these communities can be done by professionals who can start small and grow as they serve.

    In the abscence of any funding I am doing this information service with whatever I can afford hoping to one day manage to get the “track record” that will get funds to move on. The information needed by these communities is immediate and about real life issues so we cannot wait intill they know enough English to read food labels that tell them what to eat or not to eat if they have heart ailments or are diabetic.!

    I will not give up