Tag Archives: Betty Thomas

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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The Importance of Legal Research Skills


Early in November, LexisNexis released a paper summarizing their survey of summer associates conducted last July. Summer Associates Identify Writing and Legal Research Skills Required on the Job reported on the responses of 330 summer associates working in large U.S. law firms (with over 50 attorneys).

The findings that I found most interesting were the following:

  • Close to half reported spending between 50 to 100% of their time conducting legal research.


  • 86% of hiring partners believe legal research skills are highly important.
  • Summer associates used state and federal case law (97.3%) and state and federal statutes (87%) the most. Treatises were the most used secondary source.
  • When asked what additional research skills they would like to know, the summer associates chose regulatory research (33.9%), secondary sources (27.3%), and verdicts, briefs, and dockets (24.8%) as the top three topics.
  • Between 20 and 30% of summer associates would like more drafting instruction on contracts (29.7%), memo writing (28.8%), pleadings and motions (22.7%), and briefs (21.5%).

While this is just one study conducted by LexisNexis, it does give some information about the importance of legal research in the work done by summer associates.

~Betty Thomas~

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What I am Reading: The Education of Kevin Powell


Have you read All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg? It is an autobiography about growing up dirt poor in northeastern Alabama. The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood is Kevin Powell’s autobiography about growing up dirt poor in the ghetto in Jersey City.  Both men were raised by single mothers. Both men experienced violence in their childhoods. Both men went on to become successful writers: Bragg won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing for The New York Times; Powell’s writings have appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Essence, Ebony, Rolling Stone, and Vibe.

Powell’s journey was not a straight path. While he excelled in school and was able to go to Rutgers University, his suppressed anger sabotaged his own success several times along the way. His book includes chapters from his life about appearing on MTV’s The Real World, writing for Vibe magazine, running unsuccessfully for Congress, and journeying to Africa.  In an interview about his book, Powell said that his memoir has been inside him for years. He also said that while he did not target his book to young adults, he does hope that young people might avoid some of the mistakes that he made growing up. His memoir is an honest, transparent account of his life, the successes and the failures. He works as an activist, writer, and public speaker focusing on civil and human rights. He works through his organization, BK Nation, to organize peaceful protests. He ultimately works to move humanity towards freedom, justice, equality, and peace.


This book is his story.

Follow-up:  Kevin Powell discusses black masculinity in popular culture with bell hooks of The New School at https://youtu.be/FoXNzyK70Bk. The conversation begins at 13:13.

The Education of Kevin Powell is available for checkout from the Charlotte Law Library. For a few weeks, it will be located with the New Books in the East Reading Room on the 5th floor and then located here.

~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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Practice Ready Resources in the Library: North Carolina Lawyers Weekly


What is it?

If you are planning to practice law in North Carolina, North Carolina Lawyers Weekly is a great publication to know. Each week for thirty years the newspaper has been published in Charlotte and contains the following sections:

  • News: Headlines, Sidebar, and Top Legal News. A recent edition included an article concerning the collaboration of several legal organizations in order to help victims of Hurricane Matthew who needed legal services.
  • Opinion Digests: These are recent case decisions. They do not even have citations; they are so new.
  • Verdicts & Settlements
  • Bar Disciplinary Actions: Interested in seeing who has been reprimanded, censured, suspended, or disbarred? You can find the details in this column.
  • Carolina Paralegal News: The current edition highlights precautions to take to avoid cyber breaches.
  • Events: For example, last month the 7th annual Leaders in the Law awards event was highlighted with a link to nominate someone for the 2017 award.
  • Resources: Additional resources are linked in the online version such as: State and Federal Courts & Opinions, NC Legal Organizations, NC Law Schools, NC Law Firms, and the State Bar Directory.
  • Lawyers Weekly is published in different states such as South Carolina and Virginia and even Canada, but North Carolina Lawyers Weekly is specific to the North Carolina legal community.

Where can you find it?

Issues can be found in the Current Periodicals shelving in the East Reading Room on the 5th floor of the library or next to one of the chairs near the Library User Experience Desk (LUX) with other current newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.

Online access is available for students, staff, and faculty. Please contact a librarian or student worker at the Library User Experience (LUX) Desk on the 5th floor to obtain the log-in information.

~Betty Thomas~

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