Running Amok in the Stacks

Attack of the Calculator or Why I’m Not an Accountant!

Upon reviewing this assignment on library budgeting, I almost immediately had a hand wringing, heart racing, sweaty palms, I’m gonna die right now panic attack.  I hate dealing with budgets!  I’m not good at creating them and I’m even worse about sticking to them!  They make me nauseous to think about and having a budget in the library just saddens me so because I love books and technology and I WANT IT ALL!  With all that being said the library budget and utilizing it effectively is my most feared area as I step into my new role this fall, but the following articles and information has helped shrink my fears somewhat.

In reviewing, Empowering Learners, the guideline for a school library budget is to ensure the program has sufficient funding to achieve the mission, goal, and objectives of the program.  It is stressed that there should be a strategic planning process and that progress toward this is shown in measurable needs assessment and progress.  Also, one should look to alternative funding instead of relying solely in the allotted budget determined by administration through fundraising, partnerships, grants, PTA funding, and many others.  At this time, my school currently holds a book fair and one other fundraiser annually, but going forward will be exploring other funding options through local businesses, grant, and foundations to pad my already tiny budget.

In Woolls, the section on writing proposals to gain either a budget increase from school administration or from outside sources.  Developing a statement of needs was quite helpful as I have several areas of the library that are lacking in resources and by developing a statement of needs for those areas, I may be able to garner additional resources outside of my already established budget by showing that the current materials are inadequate for student assignments by the classroom teacher.

Jacquie Henry made an excellent point in her blog post regarding hanging onto her library budget by encumbering her funding as soon as possible.  By having those funds already spoken for even if an order has not be submitted, they are effectively taken off the table so to speak because they are already earmarked for use.  This is a tip I fully intend on using as I would hate to have my principal look at my unspent budget and allocate those funds elsewhere because it was assumed they were not needed.

Karen Jerolamon in her LM-NET post explained her experience in submitting a budget based on need to the school district. I have to admit, in my newness, I have no idea how the library budget is calculated in each of my school buildings.  I don’t know if it is a district or school line item or how it is even calculated.  I had always assumed that it was largely decided by the principal in how they allocated funding for the different areas in the school building.  In order to create a proper needs statement, goals and planning one of my first orders of business is to find out where the money comes from because it certainly isn’t a magical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Doug Johnson put the whole confusing budget creation process into three simple steps.  Goals or how my budget will effect student learning.  Specificity or this is exactly how and on what I am going to spend my budget. Finally, assessment or how the budget helped move the library media center and student learning toward specific goals and outcomes.  For my mathematically challenged brain, this is the most succinct and easily understandable explanation of budget creation I have read.

Johnson also points out that good budgets creators are advocates for their programs by providing a budget with specific tangible needs and outcomes even if it isn’t requested, know and can show and explain the importance of their program and unfortunate outcomes if budget needs are not met and use of the budget to create an up-to-date catalog of information and a sustainable, almost living library media center and program.

Empowering Learners, Guidelines For School Library Media Programs. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2009. Print.

Henry, Jacquie. “Book Budgets – Hanging on to What Is Yours.” Wanderings 20 Nov. 2009. Web. 27 May 2011. <>.

Jerolamon, Karen. “HITLibrary Budget as Line Item.” Mailing list. LM_NET. Syracuse U., 17 May 2012. Web. 3 June 2012. <>.

Johnson, Doug. “ Budgeting for Mean, Lean Times Part 5.” The Blue Skunk Blog 20 Dec. 2009. Web. 27 May 2011. <>.

—. “Effective Library Budgeting.” The Blue Skunk Blog, 23 Jan. 2012. Web. 3 June 2012. <>.

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.


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