3 Ways Your Community Can Bolster Your Book Budget

January 26, 2017


Future Ready Librarians shoulder the responsibility of aligning their library’s resources to their school’s objectives in order to create a learning hub that meets the needs of students as well as staff. When broken down into actionable items, the to do list can be a bit daunting: improving collections and providing engaging learning materials, expanding the library’s digital resources, and helping students develop responsible digital citizenship, to name a few.

This is admittedly a lot for anyone to accomplish, especially when one has to contend with limited financial means, as has been reality for many schools for many years. But because of their training, access to resources, and teaching spaces, librarians are uniquely positioned to help lead their schools toward a Future Ready learning model. Part of that leadership and implementation is firmly tied to budget management. Whether it’s stretching the budget further or finding additional funds, sometimes skillful management means getting pretty creative.

One of the ten initiatives set forth for Future Ready Librarians is to cultivate community partnerships. At Cantata Learning we’ve really enjoyed getting to know some fantastic educators through our Harmony Project campaigns. One such educator is our Community Harmony Project winner Michelle Griffith, an elementary school lead media specialist for Brazosport ISD in Texas. We’ve been impressed by Griffith’s smart budgeting tricks, and so in the name of cultivating community, we wanted to share a few of them with you today.

Griffith’s Tips for Finding More Funds

Tip 1: The beginning of the calendar year can be tough, but now is a good time to look at Federal dollars that perhaps have not been spent.  The ESSA allows for Federal money to be spent in libraries. So reach out to your Federal program folks and find out if you can get a portion of what is not earmarked!

Tip 2: I also look into local as well as national grants. Many companies offer incentives for employees who volunteer. For instance, Dow Chemical will make a $500 donation to a school on behalf of a community volunteer who is employed by Dow.

Tip 3: We host book fairs twice each year. I have also found great success with having a fundraiser dinner one night during book fair. We offer a meal (entree, cookie, and a drink) for $5.00 a plate. We get local businesses and Brannen parents to donate the items for the dinner, so all the money we earn is pure profit. We generally earn about $1,000. Attendees always go to the book fair as well, so we earn money there too!

Paying It Forward

Griffith also participated in Cantata Learning’s Give a Shout Out to Your Community Harmony Project. Students took part by reading our books and attending our live streaming Community Meet & Greets with several speakers including an author, eye doctor, singer, and bike mechanic.

By submitting to and winning the project, she won 25 free books for her school as well as 25 free books for Texas Children’s Hospital. Her school already collects toys for the B.I.G. Love Cancer Care drive at the hospital each year. The toys (and the books!) go to children undergoing treatment in the cancer ward there.

Congratulations again Michelle, we’re so proud of you and the work you do!

Get Involved with Us

We’re always looking to grow new relationships with librarians, whether its through Harmony Projects, lesson plan submissions, or reviewing books. Interested in talking with us more or becoming a reviewer? We invite you to reach out to us by emailing info@cantatalearning.com. We look forward to hearing from you!


This post is the first in a series of Future Ready budget-friendly ideas. Stay tuned for more!