Stretching the buck

Blogging Challenge for School Librarians, Day 20

Well, now, here we are on the final entry of this blogging challenge! What a great concept for promoting reflection and idea-sharing in our profession, and I would love to see this become an annual event. 

Budgets are tight. How do you make it stretch? Fundraisers, paperbacks, doing your own do you do it?

Budgets...such a hot topic for school libraries today. Public, academic, and other specialty libraries are doing just fine. Classrooms have had supply funds cut, but at least they still exist. Teacher salaries have been frozen for some time, but I don't even care about that. We're okay. Public school libraries are unfortunately the first to be cut from state and local budgets and are among the last to be restored.  

In Alabama we are hoping for our school library funds to be restored in the next fiscal year, which the legislature will be working on very soon. If you have a moment, it's time to contact your reps and encourage them to restore library funding. It's called Library "Enhancement" Funds, though that terminology is disturbing to our profession. School librarians know good and well that we depend on these funds to meet basic needs for our patrons (especially the changing curricular demands brought on by the College and Career Ready Standards), and that it is not the fluff insinuated by the term "Enhancement."

How am I making it? In my previous school I had access to a small bit of federal funds, as we were a Title I school. It did not meet all our needs but most certainly helped. My current school is in much more dire straits. No federal funding and very little local funds have resulted in a crumbling collection. In the past year I have sold concessions, all kinds of "grams," written grants, and written to city and state legislators with data from a collection analysis and pleas for help. I've looked into crowd sourcing options but have some personal hangups with the approval process and what happens to funds donated by your family/friends/parents/community if you don't meet your goal (long story short-they go to other fundraisers...which could be in another state). 

Book fair remains the most successful fundraiser, but even then we only bring in about $800. One cartridge for the library's laser printer costs 1/4 of that. Books (good ones, that will last) cost at least $20 each. That money goes quickly, to say the least. 

It's not a pretty picture, though it might explain why most of the books on my shelves could literally fall apart before I can get them checked out to a student. 

Moral of the story? Let your education and legislative leaders know that it is time to restore funds for school libraries in Alabama! 

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