Monday, August 2, 2010

Second Year in a Row - No Competitive Grants

The Illinois State Library announced in their e-newsletter last week that, like last fiscal year, there will be no competitive grants for libraries. This means no special project grants, construction grants, etc.

Grants for public libraries are not easy to come by for us. Many foundations that fund grants for service organizations will not give to governments entities like public libraries. Those that do, like the Gates Foundation, tend to focus on poor and/or rural libraries. Plainfield falls into neither of those categories by the funder's definitions.

The primary funders for public library grants for us have been the state and federal government. As you probably are well aware, the State of Illinois has slashed grant funding. Competitive grants funded by the State were cut years ago. The federal grants, the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), are administered by the State. Well, with the State funds drying up, LSTA, which used to be used for competitive grants (such as our digitization project with the Plainfield Historical Society and Will County Recorder of Deeds two years ago) are now being used to lessen the blow to non-competitive grants cuts.

The Illinois Public Library Per Capita Grant is, by statute, supposed to give every public library $1.25 per person residing in the library's service area every year. It has not been fully funded for many years. Last year, it was slated for a 47% reduction. To mitigate the cut, the Illinois State Library eliminated competitive LSTA grants and used the funds for Per Capita grants. The overall cut was only 16% once the LSTA funds were included.

But for your local public library, the end result is the same: less money to go around at the time libraries are the busiest and the most needed.

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