The library media specialist is responsible for managing the financial resources of the library media program.

"The financial plan tells your money where to go so that you don’t have to spend your time finding out where it went." - Peter Drucker

Budgeting is a major concern of a learning community. Although you may be in charge of a single budget, it's essential that the teacher librarian understand the finances of the entire school. As part of the larger learning community, it's also essential to build relationships with others who deal with financial issues. Whether brainstorming ways to buy data projectors or seeking ideas for funding literature circle projects, the media specialist must be both frugal and flexible.

eye means readThis section of the course contains the following related topics you'll want to investigate:
Budget Planning
Funding Sources

eye means readRead Miller, P. (Jan 2003). Establishing a Budget (Access requires login). School Library Media Activities Monthly; 19(5), 37-38. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.
Advice for library media specialists on establishing a budget is provided.

"Publicly financed libraries in schools, cities, and universities are basically supported through some combination of sales tax, properly tax, and state income tax. Welcome to the triple whammy of declining retail sales, diminishing real estate values, and rising unemployment. You can't get blood out of a rock. I know this sounds defeatist and pessimistic and it's not politically correct, but it is what it is. Wishing will not make it so."

Excerpted from Manley, W. (Jun / Jul 2010). Winning the Budget Wars (Access requires login). American Libraries: 41(6/7); 96. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

eye means readRead a 5-part series of postings / brief articles by Doug Johnson at his Blue Skunk Blog site:
Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 1 (Dec 2009)
Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 2 (Dec 2009)
Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 3 (Dec 2009)
Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 4 (Dec 2009)
Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 5 (Dec 2009)

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What's involved with managing a budget?

Think about the information your gather as you walk into a school library or media center for the first time. Immediately, you begin to sense the investment that has been made and sustained. It takes money to build a school library. Does it look inviting, comfortable? Is it drab, dusty, and disintegrating? Is it a place that you want to spend some time? Are there things here that you would like to have time to look at and explore? Does it draw you in?

In most cases, the amount of money spent to establish and maintain a library media center is cumulatively, very large. However if the initial expenditures made to design, build, and operate the learning center are allowed to irresponsibly languish, then its current value can also quickly diminish. In order to maintain or turn-around the facility’s trend, a library administrator must effectively and sometimes creatively manage and lead in the budget processes. It takes money to keep the library a viable component of the learning community.

eye means readRead Piemmons, A. (Mar 2010). Student Voice, Student Choice: Students as Part of the Budgeting Process. Georgia Library Media Association.

A good budget manager doesn't need to be a math whiz. Instead the person must be a collaborator, steward, and thinker.

Collaborator. More than anything else, effectively administering budgets for a school library program does not begin with things or money - - it begins with your community of people. To effectively secure and allocate budget monies, you must collaborate with your students, fellow teachers, your administration and other community members; i.e., staff, school board members, parents, etc.

Steward. Establish yourself as a excellent steward; a leader seeking a wide array of input, basing purchase recommendations and choices on sound needs identification, carefully monitoring and accounting for all expenditures, implementing and assessing the results, and communicating to the learning community. Establish yourself as a credible budget administrator.

Thinker. Among varied job locations, the amount or degree of the school library media specialist’s involvement in the budget process can range from being very slight to being integrally involved at almost every level. For example, in some buildings the SLMS may have input on the development of the budget, making suggestions to their principal and/or central office administrator(s). In other cases, they may be notified of monies available for spending in specific categories at a given time in the fiscal year.

The expression, “make the most of what is available” comes to mind. Sometimes that means not only carefully utilizing the monies directly allocated to the school library media program, but also looking for additional funding from other sources and helping others spend their monies for media materials and equipment.

Unfortunately, the money isn't always available where it's needed.

eye means readRead Farmer, L. (Mar 2011). SLJ's Spending Survey. School Library Journal; 57(3), 42-47.
The article presents results from a survey of U.S. elementary and secondary school librarians regarding library budgets and expenditures.

Also read Farmer, L. (Mar 2012). Brace Yourself. School Library Journal; 58(3), 38-43.
Article discusses the financial conditions at school libraries as of 2012.

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What are the budget responsibilities?

Taking into account the evidence that school library media programs do have a positive effect on student achievement and a schools overall effectiveness, the funding and expenditures for the school library media center are directly related to student achievement. Therefore the school library media administrator makes important decisions on the use of those budgeted monies.

Teacher librarians are typically in charge of specific lines in the budget. However, media specialists can often influence other budgets by collaborating with teachers and administrators.

Typical Areas. Monies spent by school library media specialists are sometimes limited to the following main categories of budget expenditures:

flying moneyRelated Areas. In many schools, the library media specialist is directly involved in the decision-making and spending of ESEA Title I funds or other allocated funding such as government monies that must be spent in specific categories. If the principal has not asked you to particular in budget discussions, explore ways to get involved. For example, collaborate with Title I teachers on other projects as a way to begin budget discussions.

The library media specialist is in the unique situation of being able to see the "big picture" of the school's information needs. Multiple budgets can sometimes be used to fund large-scale projects. In some cases, money can be pooled and resources shared among departments through the library media center.

For example, if each department were to contribute money, it might be possible to purchase laptop computers that could be checked out from the library.

Read Schmidt, C. (Oct 2007). Whine or Woo - - Which Describes You? (And Be Honest with Yourself) (Access requires login). Teacher Librarian; 35(1), 73-74.
The author recommends several possible sources of money for school libraries including curriculum funding, grants and technology funds.

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How are collection development and curriculum development tied to budgeting?

In order to purchase the materials needed to support the curriculum, funding is needed. Because student learning occurs throughout the school, there are often many budgets involved with a single learning experience.

The teacher librarian must develop partnerships with classroom teachers and administrators to build authentic, information inquiry learning experiences for students.

Example - the second grade teacher and library media specialist design a unit focusing on community workers. The project involves a field trip funded by the PTA; a set of books acquired with Title I money; two new DVDs, 4 fiction books, and 8 nonfiction books from the library budget; and a communities clip art package funded by the technology club.

Example - a high school teacher and the library media specialist team on the development of a new globalization course. The local Lion's Club provides a mini-grant to purchase a class set of The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman; the library subscribes to an online global perspectives magazine, purchases five new books, and a DVD; the technology department establishes Blackboard space for a book discussion between Lion's Club members and students.

In each case, various funding sources were used to accomplish an important curriculum-related activity.

"Given the freedom to choose resources for assignments, students used the Web exclusively, unless a print source was required by the assignment. Since the library was valued as a social space and for its access to the digital world via our computers and students' mobile devices, I made the decision to spend the majority of my budget on databases, eBooks, and films (videos)."

Excerpted from Waite, Mary Jane (Mar / Apr 2010). A Room With a View (Access requires login). Knowledge Quest: 38(4), 58-61. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.

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What's the basis of school library media budgets?

eye means readRead Franklin, Pat and Stephens, Claire (Jan 2006). It'$ time to Write a Budget! (Access requires login). School Library Media Activities Monthly; 22(5), 46-47. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.
Authors provide insights for school library media specialists on drafting a budget for media centers.

School library media budgets are usually based on one of the following wants/needs (Callison, 2003):

School fund accounts are often categorized by information format: books, periodicals, nonprint, computer software, computer equipment, etc. Budgets based upon services are categorized/grouped under headings such as curriculum resources, recreational reading, general reference, management costs, special projects, etc.

These budget divisions often place varied outcomes in competition with each other for available monies. Some teacher librarians and administrators maintain that budgets for their library media collections should be based upon “evidence of use.” Hence circulation data would be gathered to find distribution shifts and budget allocations would shift accordingly. Those areas showing more use or demand would receive an expanding budget portion.

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Check Your Understanding

info powerInformation Power: Program Administration - Principle 7.

Sufficient funding is fundamental to the success of the library media program. (p. 100, 109)

eye means readRead Key Instructional Word: Collection Development - Budget by Daniel Callison from SLMAM, 2003. (PDF document)

Examine a Fourth Grade Economics Inquiry Project (PDF document) and the Inquiry Budget Template (Word document).

Complete the template for your own collaborative inquiry project. Then, develop a spreadsheet with the specifications for each item to be purchased with library funds.

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Make It Real

Identify and discuss the budgetary aspects of a specific library media center.

Visit a teacher librarian. Interview this person regarding issues related to financial procedures including creating purchase orders, budget reports, and other documents.

Use the following questions for guidance:

General Budget Questions

Print Materials


Electronic Materials and Other Nonprint Materials

Hardware and Equipment

Supplies / Repairs

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Read More About It

2011-2012 Budget Proposal for Wilson High School Library Media Center, NC.
Proposed budget for major service expansion.

Budget and Inventory from the Canadian Library Association

Budgeting for School Libraries
- an ALA Wikipage.

Budget Planning Guide for School Library Media Specialists (MS Document) from Baltimore County Public Schools, MD.

Cox, M. (Jan. 2008). 10 Tips for Budgeting (Access requires login). Library Media Connection; 26(4), 24-25.

Miller, P. (Feb 2003). Budget-Stretching Ideas. School Library Media Activities Monthly; 19(6), 38, 46. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.
The ideas relate to acquiring free or low-cost books and software, decorating the library media center with free posters and other promotional materials, obtaining funding for author visits, applying for professional training grants, and converting talent into funding.

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