Funding America's School Libraries

Funding America's School Libraries
Laura Bush: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One week


Laura Bush, a former school librarian, is a major supporter of all school libraries and the intellectual and entertainment treasures they can provide to children and young people.  In 2001, Mrs. Bush participated in the creation of the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries, which gives grants to school libraries around the country—money that can be spent to acquire or upgrade library materials for the use of students in that school.


Students who participate in this lesson will learn something about the organization and funding of school libraries, and gain some experience in planning a project and/or writing a grant.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; typewriters or computers with word processing; paper and pencils.


1.  First, ask students what they know about the way in which their own school library is organized and funded.  This is a good time to invite the school librarian to come in and talk about the library—particularly how it’s funded, and what might be needed by the library at the present time.
2.  Divide students into at least four groups, and, using the websites listed below, as well as resources provided by the school librarian, ask each group to do some research on the following topics:

  • Laura Bush’s initiatives for school libraries (history; examples of library projects)
  • How the school library in their school is funded at the present time
  • What the funding is used for in their school library; how it is expended
  • What needs their school library might have at the moment

3.  When the research is completed, ask each group to share what it has learned.  Then, discuss with the students as many ideas as they can think of as to what they might do to help the school library meet its needs.  Keep a list of students’ ideas on the chalkboard or a large flip chart in the room.
4.  Ask each group to select one idea to pursue.  Then, using the website, Online Project Planning Tutorial (below), have students draw up a plan for their project.  If the project includes writing a grant, direct them to the American Association of School Librarians Resource Guides to Library Funding website (also below), which has a grant-writing tutorial included on its pages.
5.  When the project planning/grant writing is complete, invite the school librarian to return to the classroom to talk with the students about their proposals.  From this collaboration might just come a plan for meeting the school library’s needs that students can actually put into action.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson might be extended by also inviting the school principal and the school superintendent to listen to the students’ proposals.  These are folks who have the ability to help students put their plans into action.

Sources & Resources:

The White House Conference on School Libraries, June 4, 2002

American Association of School Librarians Honors Laura Bush

First Lady's Initiatives for School Libraries

Online Project Planning Tutorial

American Association of School Librarians Resourse Guide to Library Funding


This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University