Grant Handbook:  The Tennessee Public Library Grant Handbook has been created to assist public libraries in managing their grants.  It includes information on contracts, changes, reimbursement procedures and other elements of the grant process.

Grant Handbook

Federal Funding:  Federal funding for libraries is made possible through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Through LSTA legislation, all fifty State Library Agencies, the District of Columbia, and U. S. territories, receive annual appropriations using a population-based formula. The statutory language of LSTA stipulates that the State Library Agency shall expend the funds for:

  • expanding services for learning and access to information and educational resources in a variety of formats, in all types of libraries, for individuals of all ages;
  • developing library services that provide all users access to information through local, state, regional, national, and international electronic networks;
  • providing electronic and other linkages among and between all types of libraries;
  • developing public and private partnerships with other agencies and community-based organizations;
  • targeting library services to individuals of diverse geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, to individuals with disabilities, and to individuals with limited functional literacy or information skills; and
  • targeting library and information services to persons having difficulty using a library and to underserved urban and rural communities, including children (from birth through age 17) from families with incomes below the poverty level.  

The Tennessee State Library and Archives uses its annual LSTA appropriation to support statewide library initiatives which benefit all types of libraries, such as the Tennessee Electronic Library and SHAREit, a statewide library catalog which promotes resource sharing. Federal funds also support the development of technology infrastructure in public libraries through grants for hardware and software and through ongoing technology assistance to small and medium-sized public libraries. In addition, federal funds are used to supplement public library services to the disadvantaged, e.g. job training centers in libraries, family literacy initiatives, and outreach to senior citizens, and to supplement the ongoing services of the Library for Accessible Books and Media.

Technology Opportunities for the Public Grants​: The 2021 TOP Grant is provided through funding from the Department of Economic and Community Development.  This grant is available to public libraries for digital literacy training, circulating wi-fi hotspots, and video recording and editing hardware and software. 

The application deadline is February 26, 2021.

TOP Grant Application

CARES Grants​:  Secretary of State Tre Hargett and the Tennessee State Library and Archives is pleased to provide a grant opportunity to all public libraries across Tennessee. The grant is provided by the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

The CARES Grant is available for public libraries to provide services available to your staff and community.  A project total of $440,000.00 in grant funds are available for hotspots; circulating hardware; videoconferencing equipment; wi-fi extenders; and protective, safety, and cleaning supplies.  Acknowledging the difficulties in budgeting at this time, this grant does not require a local match in order to apply.  The grant itself will run from April 21, 2020 – May 31, 2021 in order to allow the maximum time to applicants as well as to potentially absorb costs already incurred by the library for some protective, safety, and cleaning supplies.

The application deadline was June 15, 2020.

State Funding: The Tennessee State Library and Archives helps to support local public libraries with a total annual budget of approximately $7.6 million. This state funding supports Tennessee’s Regional Library System, a network of nine regional-based library facilities with personnel who provide materials acquisition and cataloging services, continuing education opportunities, technology assistance, and other valuable assistance to approximately 200 small to medium-sized public libraries throughout the state. The four metropolitan libraries in our state (Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville) receive direct state aid through annual contracts. In addition, the State budget includes funds for matching library construction grant dollars available for public library building projects.

Construction Grants​:  Secretary of State Tre Hargett promotes the advancement of public library services in Tennessee in many ways. Among them is providing funds for public library construction. These funds are available via a competitive grant process, and can be used for new construction, additions and extensive renovations.

Construction Grant Application

Technology Grants:  These grants are open to any public library in Tennessee for the purchase of technology for use in the library.  This is a 50/50 matching grant, which means that for every grant dollar received, a matching local dollar is required.  This is a reimbursement grant, so as the grantee receives applicable invoices for purchases made, the State will reimburse half of each until the grant award has been met.

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Applications will be rated based on need and the applicant’s ability to meet or exceed the following terms and conditions:

  • Are a recognized public library by TSLA;
  • Are currently in compliance with Children’s Internet Protection Act;
  • Follow the grant application procedures and meet grant application deadlines;
  • Demonstrate a clear ability and designated personnel to administer the grant responsibly;
  • Present realistic cost/funding estimates under $20,000.00 for the grant objective;
  • Offer well-focused, specific project proposals that identify specific objects or supplies to be procured, that concentrate on promoting technology in the public library for the staff and the public.

Contact Jennifer Cowan-Henderson for additional information.