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FAQ about LSTA Grant Applications and Awards

This page provides an index to frequently asked questions and answers from grant administrators.  More grant information is located on the LSTA web page.



I know that the abstract is a summary of my project but it has a character limit this year.  Could I see an example of the appropriate length and content of an abstract?

Write for a general audience by avoiding jargon, acronyms, and abbreviations. Avoid highly technical activity details, numerical lists and bullets. If possible, state the “who, what, and why” of the project.  

Abstract Example:

The library hosted a Small Business Resource Center open house to showcase newly purchased materials and encourage small business owners to learn about other resources at the library. As a result of the open house, circulation of the center’s resources has increased and the number of small business owners utilizing the library’s instructional services has increased.

2015 and 2016 abstract and project examples are located on the main LSTA page in addition to links from previous years.

Acknowledge IMLS

What is IMLS and what association does it have with LSTA Grant Subawards? Why do I have to acknowledge IMLS and how do I do that?

IMLS is the acronym for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It is the federal agency within the U.S. Office of Management and Budget that supports museum and library programs in the country. IMLS manages the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding.  LSTA funding is distributed to all State Libraries through the "Grants to States" program.  This program is administered at the state level by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's Division for Libraries and Technology.

Subaward recipients are required to acknowledge IMLS as the funding source for publications, objects created, activities, and websites. Recipients are acknowledging the source of federal dollars to their federal representatives and senators when they clearly demonstrate an IMLS logo (if possible) accompanied by text explaining the the federal agency responsible for its funding.

An example of acknowledgement might say: “This program was funded in part with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which administers the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).” This IMLS site has an Acknowledgement Requirements link for language to use and logos. 

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Can we use LSTA funds for advocacy and marketing of library services?

Marketing or advocating on behalf of libraries in general is NOT an allowable expense. Funds MAY be used to advocate or market a new service for a targeted audience as part of the grant application. If you are unsure about whether it is an allowable cost, please contact staff at the Division for Libraries and Technology.

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Allowable Costs

What are the allowable costs for use of LSTA funds under federal regulations?

Generally, for a cost to be allowable for an LSTA grant award, the cost must be directly related and necessary to implement one or more of the approved LSTA priorities according to the LSTA Five Year Plan for Wisconsin 2018-2022. In addition, it must be reasonable and not specifically disallowed by the State or local laws or regulations.  Please see the Code of Federal Regulations Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards for more information about allowable and unallowable costs. For future reference, the regulation is Title 2 Subtitle A Chapter II  Part 200 Subpart E.

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Category Requirements

What are the general category requirements for the federal subaward categories?

Applications received from one applicant for similar projects in multiple categories and/or there is a discrepancy in the application category will be subject to internal review by DLT staff. Contact category consultants with questions before applying.

Applicants in the competitive grant categories of content creation, digitization, accessibility, and literacy may apply for distinct projects across categories or between levels within a category but may not apply for projects that suggest double-dipping across categories or between levels within a category.

LSTA grants and grant categories are not guaranteed for more than a one-year time period. New applications must be submitted and approved each year.  

Public libraries and public library systems can submit collaborative grants with other public libraries and/or public library systems. One library or system must serve as primary grant administrator.

All grant projects must:

  • Include a strategic marketing plan (inside and outside the library community) that includes people who do not use print, read well, or speak English. (Only for projects that serve the public)
  • Appropriately acknowledge the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as the funding source on websites, publications and activities supported with the use of LSTA grant money
  • Comply with factors outlined in LSTA Information & Guidelines: “Need to Know”
  • Include participation by grant administrator in online group forum with other grant administrators, led by DLT consultants
  • Submit media files (such as digital images, videos, URLs) as part of final evaluation to show project outcomes
  • Showcase project outcomes to Wisconsin public library community via statewide conference session, webinar, blog post, or published online resource.
  • The grant categories and dollar amounts may be revised on the basis of the total dollars available, applications submitted, and other factors before final awards are made. Applications are reviewed by category not by category level.

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One of my partners withdrew from the  project which will alter a couple of activities as well as my budget.  Can I make changes and how is it done?

Changes to the budget and activities can be made by the project administrator on a case by case basis. However, approval must be obtained from the Division for Libraries and Technology prior to making the change. Complete and submit an LSTA Budget Revision Request form. Include the complete plan and original budget (LSTA funds) as well as an explanation of the need for the changes. Approval of the change(s) needs verification to ensure that the change is allowable. 

All grant changes must fulfill one or more of the stated LSTA purposes found in the LSTA Information and Guidelines for Wisconsin.  Email the signed budget revision form to even if there is no fiscal change involved. If the change is approved, the LSTA program coordinator will sign, scan, and email the revised sheet back to you for your files.

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Distribute Funds

Distribution of funds by public library systems to member libraries is known as a “mini-grant.” Are mini-grants distributed to member public libraries permitted?

Yes, a distribution of funds to member libraries is permitted. However, the federal government requires more accountability in the distribution of funds to better reflect the total impact that federal dollars is having in the community. If your library or library system decides that it is easier to distribute funds to member libraries(e.g. for training, workshops, technology supplies, collections, etc.), the member libraries must complete an evaluation to the library system accounting for the agency’s use of the funds, the targeted audience and the number of persons served with the funds, as well as a description on how the funds met the customers’ needs.

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Can we hire a singer or performer as part of our grant project?

LSTA funds may not be used for entertainment costs; performance costs may be reimbursed with LSTA funds ONLY if the performance is primarily for educational purposes and is a necessary part of an outreach effort.

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Can LSTA dollars pay for food and snacks?

LSTA funds cannot be used for food that supports primarily entertainment activities. If food is obtained in conjunction with training to achieve one of the LSTA purposes, the expense may be allowable. In most cases, however, it is best to use local funds for food expenses. Please contact the LSTA Coordinator if you are unsure.

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Funds - Grant Payment

How do I obtain the funds awarded to my library in the grant? I was expecting to receive a check.

Checks are not issued with a grant award. To receive payment for obligated expenses, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction reimburses a library or library system with a direct deposit to a bank account. For the Program Fiscal Report (PI-1086) form and instructions, please see the School Management Services Federal and State Grant Programs Program Fiscal Report (PI-1086) page.

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Incentives/ Motivators

Can LSTA funds pay for incentives/motivators (toys/gifts)?

No, the federal government does not allow costs of promotional items, which include toys and gifts, to be funded with LSTA dollars. The purchase of these items with LSTA funds is rarely an allowable cost unless “…items are more educational and informational in nature than promotional.” It is recommended that libraries partner with businesses and organizations to cover the cost of promotional material.  

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When can I order the items budgeted in my grant application?

LSTA grant recipients may begin ordering items from approved applications upon receipt of the Notification of Federal Grant Subaward.

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Can we just have a verbal agreement with a business or school to consider it a partnership for my grant project?

IMLS considers partnerships official only when there is a written agreement between the grant applicant and another institution. An agreement may also come in the form of signed letter stating the intent of member librarians to attend training, offer a program to library users, financial support, or in-kind contribution of staff to teach a workshop/presentation. In either example, there is a clear understanding of the responsibilities expected from each institution. Grants are offered to a single fiscal agent; any project that includes distribution of funds AND/OR shared activities with additional entities must have a formal partnership agreement.

This is an example of a written memorandum of understanding (MOU) and can be modified to formalize a collaborative project. For fiscal relationships, allocating funds to member libraries requires greater documentation in the LSTA application and final evaluation. The federal government requires accountability in the distribution of funds. For example, library system staff, as grant administrators, need to provide information to member libraries about their responsibility in agreeing to accept funds. IMLS requires that each recipient of funds describe the impact of the federal funds on its community. Each library or organization that receives and spends LSTA money must report on the use of the LSTA funds and the outcomes of the project to the original recipient of the grant award.

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Photo Guidelines

Are there guidelines for submitting photos or images to demonstrate my LSTA project?

Yes.  Please refer to the photo guidelines and forms for permission to display images or photos online.

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Previous Grants

Can I see examples of previously written grant applications?

Yes. Visit the current LSTA and the LSTA activities prior to 2016 pages. Each grant year lists awards by category with titles and grant number(s) for viewing an abstract. Visit that year's grant abstracts to review project summaries. If the abstract summary describes a project that you would like to implement in your area, request a copy of the grant in an email to the LSTA Coordinator. Please state the year, grant title, and the grant number. The LSTA Coordinator will email copies of the requested applications.

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What are the LSTA purposes and why are they important?

Wisconsin established its purposes based on the federal LSTA priorities through the IMLS Grants to States program,  and they are described in the LSTA Five Year Plan for Wisconsin, 2018-2022. 

These purposes are accomplished through the activities described within the LSTA Five Year Plan for Wisconsin, 2018-2022 and implemented by the DLT through statewide initiatives, managed projects and resources, or through a grant application process. 

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What happens if evaluations are not completed on time or my library did not follow all the rules signed in the certification?

There is a framework in place to receive federal LSTA funding currently and in the future so that libraries and library systems conform to DPI and IMLS requirements.  If a grant recipient materially fails to comply with the terms and conditions of an LSTA award, whether stated in a federal statute, regulation, assurances, application, certification, or notice of grant award, the DLT may take one or more of the following actions, as appropriate in the circumstances:

  • Temporarily withhold grant funds pending correction of the deficiency by the recipient
  • Disallow use of funds for all or part of the cost of the activity or action not in compliance
  • Wholly or partly suspend or terminate grant awards
  • Require the immediate return of LSTA funds to the DPI
  • Withhold future grant awards
  • Suspend or reduce future grant awards
  • Pursue other remedies that may be legally available

According to the Public Library Services funding framework for library grant recipients, a missed deadline results in a message sent to the project administrator, library board and director, and the system. For system grant recipients, a missed deadline results in a message sent to the project administrator, system board and director, and all member libraries involved in the project. 

Special Conditions: The recipient must provide written documentation that shows that any special conditions of the award have been met. Unless specifically waived in writing by LSTA Program Coordinator or Director of PLDT, the failure to meet any of the General and Special Conditions prior to termination of the grant will result in the disallowance of all award expenditures and the return of all federal funds to the DPI.

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For questions about this information, contact Tessa Michaelson Schmidt (608) 267-5077