Category Archives: Local Points of Interest and Events

7 Keys to Grant Writing


Over lunch at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Metrolina Library Association members recently learned from Raye Oldham, Federal Programs Consultant with the State Library of North Carolina, about how to effectively write grants. In fact, she gave us 7 keys to successfully unlock the doors to being awarded a grant. The State Library of North Carolina awards Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants to eligible North Carolina libraries. These grants are federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. However, her “keys” are applicable to anyone applying for a grant.

key Be On the Same Page as Your Funder

  • The State Library wants to say “yes.” They have to distribute all of their funds each year so they want applicants to be successful and get those funds.
  • Oldham pointed out that the focus of the grant proposal should be on the needs of the users and future users, not on what the library needs. That focus should be clear in the writing of the application. For example, state that “our users need…” rather than “we need” or “our library needs.” The grant is not about the library. How will that new technology help your users?
  • In addition, the State Library wants to evenly distribute the money. For example, if Charlotte Mecklenburg Library submits 3 applications and two other county library systems submit one application each, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library may have only one application approved so that the other library systems can also get some funding. They also look to distribute funding across different types of libraries: public, academic, community college, etc.

key Know Where to Find Information

Become familiar with the funder’s webpages by digging into the links, understanding the different programs, checking for the most current information, and looking for timelines.

For example, the 2017-2018 LSTA Grant Programs timeline starts with the application deadline on February 24, 2017. Libraries will find out if they are funded in May or Early June and projects start July 1.

key Review Previous Awards

Most funders post what they have awarded in the past. Applicants should look for this information for three reasons:

  • Check to see if what you want to do aligns with what they want to fund. Funders may want new ideas but looking at these awards will still give you a sense of heading in the right direction.
  • If you see what someone else has done, you can contact them to find out additional information and get ideas.
  • If your library is interested in doing something new, you can see other projects and get ideas.

In 2016-2017 the State Library funded seven projects about literacy: information literacy, adult literacy, and children’s literacy.  A lot of projects included partnerships. For example, a college library partnered with the early college department, a career center, or a disability advocacy group to further integrate with the community.

key Data Is Your Friend

Funders are usually not looking for intensive, analytical data but adding numbers to your application will help you be more successful. Statements like the following: “frequently students will ask for x” cause the reviewer to wonder what that frequently might mean: 3 times a day or 3 times a month. A better statement would be: “3 out of 10 times, there are not enough laptops for students to do their own work.” Specifics in context will be helpful in getting your application approved.

key Make It Easy

You want reviewers to easily understand your proposal and clearly see the obstacles facing your users. Sometimes the reviewers see applications with a goal statement, a target audience, a budget, and an evaluation but none of the pieces go together. Your application has to be clear and understandable.

Many funding applications include questions with identifiers under each question like parts (a), (b), and (c). Use these to organize your application or response. Addressing each part specifically will help the reviewer see that you have responded to each of those items. If something does not apply, just indicate N/A but be sure to use the identifier.

key Schedule Time

A lot of people think the real work starts with completing the application but actually the real work starts when you get funded. Blocking off time on your calendar like an appointment will help with the review process, with keeping implementation deadlines from passing, and with completing the final report. In a similar way, many applications require signatures in different sections. Plan ahead and leave yourself some cushion in case someone is unavailable.

key Ask!

The State Library is happy to help answer questions or brainstorm ideas. Asking questions makes you look like a stronger applicant. Asking questions shows you are making an effort to have the best application possible. The State Library also will review a draft if submitted at least two weeks before the due date.



For further information: The State Library of North Carolina’s 2017-2018 LSTA Annual Program Plan.

Any questions, please contact Raye Oldham at:

Raye Oldham
Federal Programs Consultant
State Library of North Carolina
North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Thanks to Raye Oldham for an excellent program!

~Betty Thomas~

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Center for Civil and Human Rights


If you are traveling over the holidays and go to Atlanta, be sure to check out the Center for Civil and Human Rights.  Located in Downtown Atlanta at the Centennial Olympic Park between the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, the museum is easy to find and well worth a visit.

The Center was first imagined by civil rights leaders Evelyn and Joseph Lowery, and Andrew Young. Opening in 2014, former Mayor Shirley Franklin brought together corporate and community support to create a museum that would connect the American Civil Rights Movement with global Human Rights Movements.

On the bottom floor are Martin Luther King, Jr.’s personal papers. The collection was acquired in 2007 for $32 million by a consortium of donors led by then-mayor Shirley Franklin, and is owned by Morehouse College. Low lighting and closely monitored temperature and humidity protect all these writings which include his handwritten notes, sermons, speeches, and manuscripts… a total of over 10,000 items in all.

The middle floors of the Center are devoted to the American Civil Rights Movement, created by playwright and director George C. Wolfe, who won Tony awards for directing “Angels in America” and “Bring in ‘da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk.” Thus, it is not surprising that this section is more of an experiential exhibit. While there is plenty to read and digest, an impactful part of the museum for me was sitting at a segregated lunch counter during a simulated sit-in wearing headphones and listening to what might have been said to the civil rights protestors in Greensboro in 1960.  Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., the television newscasts of the 60s that are part of the display brought back lots of memories of events like the March on Washington.

The upper floor of the center has interactive displays of human rights situations around the world. The idea is to connect the civil rights movements of the 1960s to the human rights abuses that are still occurring around the world today.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights’ architect, Phil Freelon of Durham, North Carolina, merged with the Atlanta firm of Perkins and Will. Together they have recently completed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. As impressive as the Center for Civil and Human Rights was to visit, I look forward to seeing their newest project.

For more information about the Center for Civil and Human Rights click here.


~Betty Thomas~

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Filed under Library, Local Points of Interest and Events, Of Interest to Law Students

What’s Happening Charlotte – December 2016












~Julie Morris~

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Last Chance to Register for Next Week’s Metrolina Library Association Winter Luncheon


Click here for more information or to register for this event!

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Tour of UNC Charlotte’s J. Murrey Atkins Library – Metrolina Library Association’s Fall Event

UNC Charlotte’s Atkins Library staff showed Metrolina Library Association members some of the recent changes that they have been making to the first floors of the library. The photos that follow are just some of the highlights. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Thanks especially to Judy Walker, Education/Psychology Librarian, for a great tour!

~Betty Thomas~

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