On Monday, that ALA Washington Office submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) grant program.
IAL was funded in FY 2014 at $25 million and is a competitive grant program where, by law, a minimum of half of this money must go low-income to update and maintain their school libraries. The rest of the money goes to national non-profits that work for childhood literacy.
An example of IAL helping students and the community is in the Lowndes County Public School in Alabama. The Lowndes Schools received an IAL grant in 2012 and they are using that award to help implement their Transforming School Libraries to Facilitate a Culture of Learning (TSLFCL) goal in their schools. This money has been used to update the school library materials including books, e-readers, computers, and other such materials that are needed for an up-to-date school library. This grant has also been used to open the school libraries on Saturdays and provide professional development for the district’s school librarians.
Consequently, this grant has allowed the Lowndes Schools to increase their number of reading materials being checked out by 63 percent. The e-readers have provided many students simultaneous access to the popular titles so the wait time for high-demand books has been eliminated. Students are also able to get immediate access to all the e-books that are available. Furthermore, the school district has opened the school libraries on Saturdays and Saturday participation has exceeded the district’s goal by 50 percent.