Your school library budget

This guide provides advice on what to include in your library budget, and on planning and tracking the expenditure.


Responsibility for your budget
Deciding on a budgeting method
Library budget content
Budget allocation
Budget management and review
Additional sources of funding
Budget Proposal template

Responsibility for your budget

Responsibility for managing your library budget depends on the composition of your library team. Often this responsibility is delegated to the teacher librarian, teacher with library responsibility or library manager, who are tasked with preparing and presenting the budget, and managing budget expenditure.

It's important to include the budget processes followed in your library, in the following documents:

All school budgets are GST-exclusive.

Deciding on a budgeting method

The two approaches most commonly used by schools are ‘needs-based’ and ‘lump sum’ budget allocation.

Needs-based budget

We recommend needs-based budgeting. This approach links your budget directly to the needs of your learners.

Once you have assessed your collection and gathered information about your community you'll be able to prioritise and collate your needs into a collection requirements plan. You'll then include this information when you develop your budget proposal, which clearly outlines the actual funding your library needs.

This evidence-based approach clearly links library resourcing to support for student learning. This strategic link between library resourcing and student learning and achievement gives added strength to the library budget proposal in your school.

Lump sum allocation

Some schools still use this approach to budgeting, where the funding for the coming year is based on previous years’ budget allocations. However, this approach does not:

  • recognise the increasing price of library resources
  • establish clear links between the development of your collection and the curriculum, or your students' reading interests.
  • provide sufficient accountability
  • allow your library team to shape the library services to your students' learning needs.

Library budget content

The library budget should include the following items:

  • Books, e-books, audiobooks
  • 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.
  • Consumables - including processing and repair materials such as covers, barcodes, security strips, spine labels, as well as materials for student librarian certificates, displays, and incidentals such as student librarian rewards
  • Photocopying charges including paper, toner cartridges and service charges
  • Professional reading / subscriptions such as review journals and professional associations eg SLANZA, NZ Book Council Writers in Schools.
  • Minor capital items, such as cushions, signs, laminator, barcode scanner

The following items would normally come out of other school 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

Decisions on your library's budget will be based on your budget proposal and available funds. If you are allocated less funding than requested, you'll have to re-prioritise your original plan, and inform the relevant teaching departments.

You can note any problems such as having insufficient resources for a particular topic in the collection requirement plan for future consideration.

Budget management and review

Some important administrative aspects of managing your budget include:

  • maintaining accurate records of expenditure
  • always checking your purchases carefully against your order and invoice forms. Monitor outstanding ‘back orders’
  • keeping copies of invoices
  • liaising with school administration personnel who have 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.

Additional sources of funding

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's worth investigating grants, sponsorships, PTA donations, school fundraising, book fairs, and commercial sponsorships.

Image: BT ArtBox - Money Box, by Dave Catchpole on Flickr

48.5 KB