Thursday, August 18, 2011

When Your School Library Budget is Slashed

Money has really been tight for education lately. Every year, my budget gets cut a bit more than the last year. In New Jersey, our "beloved" governor took millions away and the pain of cuts has continued into the 2011-2012 school year. I have around 70% less than last year, and now my game plan has changed. Are you in the same situation? I bet you are. I have decided to share with you some of the things I'm doing this year to provide free resources to replace those we lost.

1. Alternatives to Facts on File- The databases included in our school package are terrific, but the cost of $800+ is something we can't afford. The Facts on File databases we had were: World Geography and Culture Online, American History Online, Modern World History Online, American Women's History Online, African American History Online, American Indian History Online, Ancient and Medieval History Online, Science Online, Fergusen's Career Guidance Center, Bloom's Literary Reference Online and the Curriculum Resource Center. Here's what free online resources I'll be recommending which our students and staff could use. Many are pathfinders I have created with sites I have already cleared for student use. They include:

African-American History- African-American Scientist and Inventors Pathfinder, Apartheid PathfinderBlack History Month Pathfinder, Civil Rights Pathfinder, The Harlem Renaissance Pathfinder, Martin Luther King, Jr. Pathfinder, Slavery Pathfinder

Career Resources Pathfinder

Medieval Times Pathfinder

Women in History Pathfinder

Several databases from EBSCO, which are provided for free for us from the NJ State Library:  Student Research Center, Literary Reference Center, Points of View, History Reference Center, Science Reference Center, Business Source Premier, Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia and Novelist Plus. If your school doesn't have direct access to EBSCO, try your public library and maybe students can enter through their site by using individual library card numbers.

2. Alternatives to magazine and newspaper subscriptions- We used to subscribe to about 24 magazines, and I will be forced to weed out about half. BUT.....I was very happy to find that many of them including Consumer Reports, (full text 1991-present) TIME, (full text 1990-present) American History (full text 1994-present) plus many more are available through EBSCO.  Many magazines have web sites, (another choice) but you can't always find full text articles there. Digital subscriptions cost money. Now, all this online viewing brings up another problem: without any computers available, how do students read online? I wonder how schools with iPads are utilizing them. If you are one of those schools, I'd love to hear from you.

Our school is fortunate to receive free access to the digital editions of The New York Times and our local county paper, The Record. Unlike the web sites, this digital edition is like reading the actual newspaper, page by page. I just applied for USA Today Classroom Newspaper Grants. Check and see what local newspapers have to offer your school.

3. Amazon School Rewards- For the past two years, we have been using Amazon School Rewards to raise money without asking people to open their wallets. Simply by entering the site through our link, we receive advertising fees based on what items are purchased. I chose for us to receive that money in the form of gift cards, which I then purchased books with by entering the site through our link. The more people you get on board, the more money you will make.

4. Raffle- Last year our library raffled off an iPod Touch and made a profit close to $200.00. This year's item will either be an iPad or an XBox 360, depending on the results of a poll we are taking. It may seem like small change, but the hundreds add up.

What YOU doing to stretch your dollars? Please comment below.
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