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

man with calculatorThe 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 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 readRead Chapter 5 - The Media Center Budget by B.J. Morris in Administering the School Library Media Center.

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

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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.

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 New Money, Old Books by Marilyn Miller and Marilyn Shontz in School Library Journal; Oct 2001, 47(10), 50. (Access requires login) This is the 2001 survey of the state of school libraries. This latest biennial survey of school library funding shows that media centers have been better able to beef up their technology connections than their book collections.

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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.

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How are collection development and curriculum development tied to budgeting?

All three of these activities must constantly be on the mind of a library media specialist. 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 adminstrators 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.

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).

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What's the basis of school library media budgets?

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)

Read Key Instructional Word: Collection Development - Budget by Daniel Callison from SLMAM, 2003. (PDF document), Then, examine a Fourth Grade Economics Inquiry Project (PDF file) and the Inquiry Budget Template (Word document).

Complete the template for your own collaboartive 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

Accounts Available for Media Centers from Alpine School District, Utah
Summary of budget accounts

Budget and Inventory from Canadian Library Association

Budget Cuts and School Libraries at Thoreau Elementary School, Concord, MA.
Letter to community . . .

Callison, Daniel J. Continuing the Quest for New Nonfiction Resources from Middle Grades Reading Network, IN

Computers for Schools
National non-profit dedicated to providing a low cost alternative for achieving technology in the classroom.

Curtis, Della. School Library Renaissance in Baltimore County: An Open-and-Shut Case for Library Funding. Multimedia Schools, Nov/Dec 2000.

Foundation Center
Resources, assistance for grantseekers.

Funding Your Technology Dreams by Sherry Abshire. Calcasieu Parrish Schools, LA
Collection of recommended Web sites for grantwriters.

Librarian’s Yellowpages
Buyer's guide created by librarians for librarians.

Library Budget Guide Other from Baltimore County Public Schools
Related Webpages from BCPS:
Audiovisual Coordinator Budget Responsibility
Financial Record: Library Budget Accountability
Ordering Methods for Library Materials/Equipment

Librarians to Fall Victim to Budget Ax from Inquirer, May 2002.
While reform efforts have grabbed the spotlight in the Philadelphia schools this spring, principals in the cash-strapped district have been quietly making painful decisions on what they will have to do without next year. Fourteen schools - including six high schools - are slated to lose their full-time librarians, although most libraries will stay open.

Miller, Marilyn & Shontz, Marilyn. Location Is Everything. School Library Journal, Nov 2000; 46(11), 50. (Access requires login) . . .
A Regional Look at School Library Spending and Services, FY 1997-1998.

Miller, Marilyn L. & Shontz, Marilyn L. The SLJ Spending Survey. School Library Journal, Oct. 2003; 49(10). (Access requires login) . . .
While funding takes a hit, libraries expand their services. Report on biennial survey on spending, resources, and services. Includes data and tables about collection size and per pupil expenditures.

Miller, Marilyn & Shontz, Marilyn. New Money, Old Books. School Library Journal, Oct. 2001; 49(10), 52. (Access requires login)
This is the 2001 survey of the state of school libraries. This  latest biennial survey of school library funding shows that media centers have been better able to beef up their technology connections than their book collections.

Miller, Pat. Establishing a Budget. School Library Media Activities Monthly. 19:5, 37-38, January 2003. (Not available online)

Shaw, Kelly (1997). School Libraries are Old, Cramped, Out of Date and Under-staffed. Salem News.

Status of Public and Private School Library Media Centers in the United States: 1999–2000. National Center for Education Statistics.
This report summarizes findings from the public and private School Library Media Center Questionnaires, a component of the 1999–2000 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). Topics addressed in this report are: characteristics of the library media center, staff characteristics, library expenditures, collection holdings, and library policies.

St. Lifer, Evan. Stop the Insanity. School Library Journal, Mar. 2004; 50(3), 11. (Access requires login) . . .
Annual calculation for 2004 of average book prices in the editor's column.

Tech Soup
Helps nonprofit organizations use the Internet for fundraising, advocacy, and communication.
Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher Donation Program
TechSoup Stock (Software & other products at discount)

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