Bucks For Books

Students and teachers at Jamestown High School will have plenty of new reading material this year thanks to a grant from the Laura Bush Foundation.

The grants, which were awarded to 238 school libraries around the country, totaled more than $1 million. The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries was founded in 2002, and since its inception has awarded more than $9.5 million to schools around the country. The application process is administered by The Community Foundation and the grants are funded through donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. Jamestown was awarded $5,000, the maximum amount allowable for the grant.

“We were one of only two schools in Western New York that got the grant,” said Curtis Carr, librarian. “The money has to be specifically used for library books, which is wonderful. My annual budget is normally about $7,000 total that I can spend on books, so this was almost doubling what I would have had otherwise. It was a great addition for us. The only caveat was that we had to have all of the orders for books in by Dec. 1, 2012.”

According to Carr, once a year Jamestown High School has a new book display, where all of the teachers and staff are invited to look at the new material that was purchased. This gives educators a chance to see what materials they will have access to so that they can plan around those resources.

“We decided to hold off on the preview until the grant books came in,” said Carr. “We ordered from three different companies and the average book that we purchase runs us about $25, so we were able to get quite a few through this grant. Our purchases covered the entire spectrum with the books that we ordered, getting both fiction and nonfiction works. Our fiction collection, in my opinion, is a bit weak so I tried to focus on that. We’re also focusing on the Common Core Standards, so we ordered some classics that fit into that category.”

Carr attributed much of the success that Jamestown High School had with the grant request to Sue Bartle, who works as the director of school library systems for BOCES.

“She’s written grants in the past, and she’s the one that told me about this in the first place,” said Carr. “She helped me to put the wording together since I had never submitted a grant before, so we were both thrilled when we found out that the school was awarded the maximum amount of the grant. Neither of us were really expecting it.”

“Anything extra that we can get, even if it’s small, is a big help,” Carr continued. “I’m very happy with the budget that I get every year, but it’s getting long in the tooth, and it’s fantastic to have that extra influx of cash. The library here isn’t utilized quite to the extent that it should be, but if we can keep it fresh and new, it helps.”