DATE: December 19, 2012
Highly Competitive LSTA Grant Round Underway
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ (MBLC) FY2014 federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant round is one of the most competitive in recent history with over 100 letters of intent for projects totaling more than $1.6 million. Due to federal LSTA budget reductions, the MBLC has allocated $692,444 for the FY2014 grant round and is scheduled to discuss the ability to fund these projects at an upcoming meeting of the State Advisory Council on Libraries which reviews applications and makes funding recommendations to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
“We are pleased to have so many libraries express an interest in this program, said Cindy Roach, MBLC Head of Library Advisory and Development. “Libraries across the Commonwealth have presented some exciting ideas.” Over the next few months, LSTA staff will work with the potential applicants to hone their applications. “As this is a highly competitive grant round, members of the State Advisory Council on Libraries will have difficult choices to make,” she added.
The MBLC uses federal LSTA funding to provide direct grants to libraries that allow them to offer innovative services for local residents. Grant opportunities are available to public, academic, school, and special libraries. One of the most popular grant opportunities is the newly developed Customer Experience in a Digital Age which helps libraries better serve patrons who use remote access to library resources and keep in touch with library happenings through social media. More than twenty libraries have submitted letters of intent for this innovative grant opportunity. Serving Tweens and Teens, which helps libraries improve service to this population, also continues to be popular.
“LSTA staff has listened to librarians and worked hard to develop new grant opportunities that are relevant and timely,” said Robert Maier, MBLC Director. Staff has also streamlined and simplified the application process and reached out to some libraries that have never received LSTA funding. The MBLC's LSTA program was recently called exemplary in two separate evaluations. The evaluation was part of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) LSTA Grants to States program. The MBLC was evaluated on the goals it set forth in its 2008-2012 LSTA Plan and the extent to which the MBLC goals align with IMLS LSTA Grants to States Priorities. Evaluators found the MBLC met or surpassed all six of its LSTA goals as well as successfully addressing all six of the LSTA Grants to States Priorities. The evaluators found that [MBLC] “efforts in all areas are well-designed and executed.”
Letters of intent are the first step in the FY2014 LSTA grant process. Applicants also attend a mandatory workshop on the application process held in January. Awards made for this round will be announced in July 2013, and projects will begin no earlier than October 1, 2013. Visit the MBLC website for more information on the direct grant program including grant round calendar, listing of grant offerings and fact sheets about each grant offerings.
In addition to direct library grants, the MBLC uses federal LSTA funding to support statewide library services and resources including summer reading, preservation and disaster recovery in cultural institutions, online resources, the virtual catalog and the statewide website. Federal funding also assists small libraries in participating in one of the nine automated networks that make efficient automated library services affordable.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.