In this guide we recommend an approach to school library budgeting based on evidence of need, and provide guidance on the items your library budget will usually cover, along with who takes responsibility for planning and tracking the expenditure.
The Teacher Librarian, Teacher with Library Responsibility or Library Manager is responsible for preparing, presenting and implementing the budget, and is accountable to school management for budget expenditure. Budget delegation may vary from school to school.
Include budget processes in the following school library documents:
All school budgets are GST-exclusive.
There are several methods for establishing a budget for the school library. The two most commonly used by schools are ‘needs-based’ and ‘lump sum’ allocation.
The National Library recommends needs-based budgeting which enables the collection to be directly targeted to the needs of the learners.
The findings from your collection assessment and community profile are prioritised and collated into your collection requirements plan. This is documented in a budget proposal which clearly signals the actual amount of budget that the library requires in order to meet the identified needs.
This evidence-based approach clearly links library resourcing to your library’s role in supporting learning in your school. This gives added strength to any budget proposal that requests a given level of funding.
Lump sum allocation
Some schools use this approach to budgeting, where the funding for the coming year is often based on previous years’ budget allocations.
This style of budgeting is increasingly difficult to justify, as it does not provide sufficient accountability, or establish clear links between the development of the collection and the curriculum or recognise the continually increasing price of library resources.
This method does not provide sufficient evidence that the lump sum is adequate to meet your library’s needs.
The library budget needs to include the following items:
- Books, e-books, talking books
- Print magazines and subscriptions to online information (eg SCIS)
- Library software support, including annual licence fees, upgrade requirements, support charges. Note that in some schools this is included in the ICT / network administration budget.
- Maintenance and repair material, including covers, barcodes, security strips, spine labels
- Consumables - including an amount for student librarians’ rewards, display materials and incidentals.
- Photocopying charges including paper, toner cartridges
- Professional reading / subscriptions such as review journals and professional associations e.g. SLANZA, NZ Book Council Writers in Schools.
- Minor capital items, such as cushions, signs, display items.
The following items would normally come out of other budgets:
- ICT hardware and costs associated with networking
- Internet costs and telecommunications charges
- Furniture, shelving and other major capital items
- Library staff salaries
- Professional development for the library team.
Budget allocation will be based on the budget proposal and available funds. If the full amount requested cannot be allocated, then resources required may need to be re-prioritised, and teaching departments informed.
Any problems such as insufficient resources available for a particular topic can be noted in the collection requirement plan for future consideration.
Bookshops, publishers or online suppliers all offer discounts or cut prices, so shop around and check for the best deals with other school librarians. Get to know your suppliers with specialist book knowledge who will source the required items.
- Maintain accurate records of expenditure
- Always check your purchases against your order and invoice forms. Monitor outstanding ‘back orders’
- Keep copies of invoices
- Liaise with school administration personnel with responsibility for overall school budgeting.
You may find it useful to use spreadsheets or the acquisitions module within your automated library management system.
Reporting on the budget is a key component of the library’s annual report.
It is your Board of Trustees’ responsibility to provide sufficient funding for resourcing the school’s programmes.
Other sources of funding should be additional to, not instead of, adequate library funding. However, it is worth investigating grants, sponsorships, PTA donations, school fundraising, book fairs, and commercial sponsorships.