The deadline for the first-round Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant applications is this Friday at 5 p.m. EDT. As you are completing your applications, here are a few tips and reminders to keep in mind:
- We hope that the application system will operate satisfactorily, but it is wiser to plan for a crash (and as of Monday, response time is already slowing down noticeably). Input as much of your data as soon as possible. Avail yourself of the reporting function (use the “View PDF” button once you log in — look at the extreme right hand side of the screen) and save interim reports to your hard drive. Be in a position to prove that you have an in-process application should the need arise.
- Of course, submit your application as soon as possible. We’ve heard that well over 1,000 applications were submitted last week. As the deadline approaches, one can only guess how many applications will be filed, but the number will probably increase exponentially in the latter part of the week.
- Most reviewers will not have familiarity with the library community. ALA members know how libraries provide a resource for community members to search for jobs, support for small businesses, education for residents, access to government services, and so on, but the reviewers may well not. Make these connections in your applications, especially how they advance BTOP purposes and goals. Avoid library jargon.
- Get a thoughtful, knowledgeable, trusted, and critical reader of your draft application who can measure your application against the BTOP requirements in the NOFA.
- Since reviewers are volunteers, make it as easy as possible to read your application. Use bullets. Cut down unnecessary explanations. You might want to get someone with good editorial skills to critique your application to streamline the text for readability.
During this final week, be sure to refer to www.ala.org/knowyourstimulus for all of the ALA Washington Office BTOP resources including webinars, instructional guidance, key links and a list of frequently asked questions page.
Moving forward, the Washington Office will continue to populate the stimulus Web site with news and updates to keep libraries well-informed. Also be sure to continue checking the District Dispatch for BTOP alerts.