Lessons learned about LSTA grant project management, as reported by recent grantees:
"We thought that if we limited the program size to 10 participants, we could proceed with just one presenter. However, there were so many levels of skill among the small class that we always had to have two staff people there, and sometimes even three! We used the senior center director for an extra pair of hands as well as reference staff who could spare the extra hour."
-- Helen Malinka, Berlin-Peck Memorial Library, Programs for Older Adults grant
"We expected that the amount of work on the grant programs will be substantial. However, reality exceeded our expectations. An extra person had to be involved in preparation and distribution of fliers and brochures, preparation of Constant Contact email flyers, chaperoning programs, and collecting results. However, all staff involved in planning and implementing these programs is extremely satisfied with programs' success and overwhelmingly positive comments from attendees."
-- Kate Soboleva, Bethel Public Library, Programs for Older Adults grant
"Working with the community partners with whom I am trying to coordinate the parent workshops has presented some organizational problems. Several groups were very enthusiastic about the grant, but getting them to actually commit to definite plans has been very frustrating. In retrospect, I should have gotten firmer commitments from them much earlier, even before I had the grant in hand. Preferably commitments that had firm dates and action plans."
-- Christine Michaud, Durham Public Library, Every Child Ready to Read grant
"What was most rewarding to me was when the conversations continued after the tour was over. For instance, after we visited the local history museum, [the attendees] chatted with me and each other about things they remembered (stores that are now closed, a long-gone woods where they used to steal kisses, furniture that was in their parents' home)."
-- Lauren DeNisco, Fairfield Public Library, Programs for Older Adults grant
"We discovered that we have to ask specific questions when people sign up [for technology classes] so we can bring some participants in earlier to get them at the same starting point as other members. For example, for the Facebook class, if people didn't have an account we asked them to come in early so we could talk them through setting one up and not bore the people who already had an account."
-- Sharon Redfern, Rockville Public Library, Programs for Older Adults grant
"I did not realize that getting contracts and W-9s filled out from each performer would be so difficult. I knew that the grant would require my being organized, but it took a month or so to work out a good system with the library's Business Manager to make sure I had all the paperwork from the performers so that she could issue the checks."
-- Katie McFadden, Stratford Library Association, Programs for Older Adults grant
"Teaching adults is very rewarding, yet challenging without some ground rules. While we needed to respect the eager participation of motivated learners, we also had to limit the time of class participation to ensure we covered essential material. Printed handouts were vital to a group of learners who historically have learned by reading/writing."
-- Shelley Goldstein, UConn Waterbury, Programs for Older Adults grant
"The major discovery we made as part of the program planning was that people in this age group don't want to focus primarily on serious topics. While the library materials on these topics (financial planning, health, etc.) have circulated well, the lighter programs are the ones with the higher attendance rates."
-- Amy McCue, West Hartford Library, Programs for Older Adults grant
Advice from our grant reviewers:
Talk to your target population and find out what they really need or want. LISTEN to them. Then communicate that need in your application and show why it's important.
Come up with project activities and evaluation outcomes to match the need you just demonstrated.
Don't make assumptions about what the grant reviewer knows, and explain fully what you want to do. Then give your grant proposal to someone who knows nothing about it. Have them read it through, and ask them if they have a good mental picture of what the library wants to do. If they are baffled, then the reviewers will be too.
If you ask for help from a member of the Division of Library Development staff, and they give you suggestions...TAKE THE SUGGESTIONS! They have lots of experience reading these proposals, and if they tell you there's a missing piece, find the piece!
People don't have to write MORE to be clear. They just have to write WELL.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds are provided through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. The mission of IMLS is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Their grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. The use of LSTA funds in Connecticut is administered according to the Five-Year Plan (2018-2022) submitted to IMLS in June 2017.
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