LSTA Grants: More Than Funding

By Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC

What do kids coding, a town’s 300th anniversary, a community garden, and engaging citizens in civic discussion have in common? They are all centerpieces of library programming in Massachusetts funded by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants administered by the MBLC. If you haven’t thought about applying for an LSTA grant, now may be the time!

The LSTA grant season has kicked off with the approval of the FY2021 grant round by the Board of Library Commissioners at their November meeting.  In addition to funding, LSTA grants have a positive impact on library staff, communities, and beyond. I’d like to point out just a few.

Prove a Concept: With limited resources it is difficult to engage in new programming. Having an outside funder takes a degree of risk away from a library when engaging in new programming, or services that serve new user populations. An LSTA grant is a great way to focus thinking around a programming idea, set schedules, and determine measures of success. The grant application process ensures that all aspects of the program are set before any spending happens. Successful grants are often used to demonstrate the need for continued support. It is not uncommon to see a popular LSTA grant become ongoing program funded by the municipality, friends group or other funding entity.

Staff Development:  Grants are a great source of outside funding, yet few libraries have the in house capability to identify and apply for them. An LSTA grant is an excellent way to build staff expertise in grant writing and execution. Applicants to the grant program will receive extensive training and consultation through the life of the grant. MBLC grant specialists work with grant recipients to ensure success.

Community Partnerships: Many LSTA grants serve as a catalyst for library engagement with community partners. LSTA grants have funded libraries to work with local historic commissions, social service providers, arts and cultural institutions, and schools. Programming with partners increases a library’s visibility and reach to their users. In many cases libraries build vital community relationships that last well beyond the life of a grant.

Tapping into the Latest Trends: Library programming is constantly changing. The MBLC staff is constantly introducing new grant programs designed to meet the ever evolving needs that libraries meet. Need some programming inspiration? Take a look at our grant offerings.

Promoting your library: Showcasing LSTA Grants are a great way to shine a light on your library. Publicizing LSTA grant programming shows your library at its innovative and creative best. In addition, highlighting the use of outside federal funding demonstrates your commitment to fiscal responsibility.To learn more about this year’s LSTA Direct Grant round visit: https://mblc.state.ma.us/programs-and-support/lsta-grants/application-index.php  Here you will find grant project fact sheets, timelines, application requirements, and FAQ.

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