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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.  See the LSTA Grant Information and Guidelines for the current year for more information.



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. Use the budget details and summary pages from the LSTA grant application and include a justification for changes along with the request. 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 to If the change is approved, the LSTA program coordinator will sign, scan, and email the revised sheet back to you for your files.

Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

LSTA funds used to purchase Internet-accessible devices (e.g., computers, tablets, or smartphones) or to pay for costs associated with accessing the Internet by library patrons and/or staff, must comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), passed in December 2000. CIPA mandates the use of Internet filters in libraries. This includes the purchase of computers for job resource centers or other off-site outreach endeavors.

LSTA funding may be used for projects that include use and/or purchase of Internet-accessible devices that are non-CIPA compliant if matching local funds are used for the purchase of the devices. LSTA funds can be used for equipment, training, transportation, or other LSTA allowable costs related to the use of the Internet-accessible devices that are non-CIPA compliant. For example, in a project involving use of iPads that are non-CIPA compliant, the iPads may not be purchased with LSTA funds although security cases, cables, storage cart, or training may be funded through an LSTA grant award. In this example, the grant application would reflect the source of funding for all items purchased as part of the project.

See the FAQ on E-rate and the Children's Internet Protection Act page for more information.

Digitization Category Requirements


A separate page was created for this category in order to explain necessary requirements to uphold a higher standard for inclusion of objects to databases that are created digitally. 

This category will widen the scope of online access to historical materials found in Wisconsin libraries while maintaining high standards for project quality, accessibility, interoperability, and sustainability. This category will allow public libraries to digitize materials that are unique or of local interest. Libraries may manage their own digital repositories, or develop partnerships with organizations that can provide hosting and technical expertise. Materials must be related to the history, culture, environment, government, or economy of the state of Wisconsin.

Possible uses for funds in this category include:

  • Basic scanner
  • Scanning software
  • Image editing software
  • Collection management software
  • OCR (optical character recognition) software
  • Outsourcing  a project to a vendor for scanning
  • Time to scan and provide metadata development
  • Licensing fee to harvest collection for Recollection Wisconsin (formerly Wisconsin Heritage Online)
  • Storage costs for access and preservation of digital files (i.e. local area network, cloud, external hard drives, archival-quality DVDs)

General requirements

  • A project must contain unique local resources not available elsewhere online for free.
  • A project must be completed within the grant award period (April 1-March 31).
  • Applicants are encouraged to attend an information session to develop reliable project cost estimates, select materials, research copyright, develop metadata, and publicize project.
  • Applicants must provide cost estimates and specify type, size, and approximate amount of material to be digitized.
  • Completed projects must have the ability to be harvested by Recollection Wisconsin in order to provide wider accessibility to online materials. Budgets must include a collection harvesting fee.  
  • Completed projects must appropriately acknowledge IMLS as the funding source on websites, publications and activities supported with the use of LSTA grant money. This acknowledgment is located in this publication’s “Need to Know” chapter.
  • The grant administrator must participate in an online group forum with other digitization grant administrators, led by DLT Technology Consultant
  • Submit media files (such as digital images, videos, URLs) as part of 6 month and final evaluation to show grant progress
  • Showcase completed grant to Wisconsin public library community through presentation at statewide conference, webinar, or published online resource

Requirements to provide public access

  • A project must be created using an OAI-compliant platform (Open Archives Initiative), such as CONTENTdm, ResCarta, or Omeka (with plug-in), so that metadata can be harvested by aggregators such as Recollection Wisconsin or, in the future, the DPLA.
  • Content may be hosted locally or access may be provided in partnership with another institution (i.e. CONTENTdm at Milwaukee Public Library through Recollection Wisconsin). Digital collections must be made freely available online. Authentication or location restrictions (such as viewing in library only due to copyright restrictions) are not permitted.
  • Digital collections and/or items should have records in the institution’s online public access catalog (OPAC).
  • Digital collections and/or items are strongly encouraged to link to/from the library’s web page.


Applicants must address long-term storage of digital assets and create regular back-up procedures of materials made available with grant support to ensure sustained access.

Selection and copyright requirements:

  • Collections must have broad appeal
  • May have research value and/or are of particular interest to key audiences
  • Are organized around a specific subject, theme or creator
  • Applicants must address copyright status of selected collections to ensure they may be included and displayed

Scanning and image processing requirements

Applications should state that scanning and image processing, whether by the applicant or a vendor, will follow a set of established guidelines, such as:

  • Recollection Collection: Contributor Guidelines
  • General Guidelines for Digitization, University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center
  • Locally developed written standards consistent with widely recognized digital imaging standards such as those developed by the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative

Metadata requirements

Applicants must be capable of creating metadata that will follow a set of established guidelines based on a standard metadata schema such as Dublin Core.

Minimum required metadata fields for each item in all collections are (Recollection Wisconsin required fields):

  • Title
  • Subject
  • DCMI Type (text, still image, etc.)
  • Format (Internet media type, such as image/jpeg, image/tiff, etc.)
  • File name
  • Rights statement (copyright)
  • Name of submitting institution
  • Date digitized

Marketing the Collection

  • Applications should include a plan for marketing digital collections to the community.

Proposed training requirements

  • Applications are strongly encouraged to include staff training to cover materials selection, copyright, scanning, file management, and metadata. 
  • Applications should include a plan for addressing staff training

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?


The Division for Libraries and Technology (DLT) within the WI Department of Public Instruction and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) welcome the use of photos and images in media posts. Using photos and images is a great way of sharing stories that develop during your project. However, grantees must comply with all applicable laws in an effort to use images appropriately. This document serves as a step-by-step guideline for image usage for contributions.

1. Before Posting Photos – DLT encourages contributors to post photos for six month and final evaluations. Before posting, please take the following steps:

  • Familiarize yourself with Creative Commons  and the correct application of its licenses
  • Search a rights-free photograph site. There are a wide variety of sources (such as NASA, US National Park Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service) for images which exist in the public domain
  • Think about appropriate attribution for your photos, who deserves credit for the photo that you are sharing?

2. Using Your Own Photos – You may want to use your own photo. This can be a wonderful solution, but it is important to think about the subjects in your pictures. Before submitting your own photos to DLT, please consider stating that you are the photographer and contributor of the image as part of a caption, a “mouse over” description or in some link back to the picture’s source.

If you are using your own picture, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are identifiable adults captured in the picture? If so, do you have a signed waiver for those individuals?
  • Are identifiable children (anyone under age 18) captured in the picture? If so, do you have a waiver signed by both guardian/parent and child?
  • All photographs containing images of identifiable children require verifiable consent from the child’s guardian or parent. These waivers, signed by both the parent and the child, must be obtained and kept on file at your library. Photo waivers are available here:

Library Photo Release Form

Child Photo Release Form

  • You may also choose to blur the faces of the individuals captured in the photograph. 

3. Using Photos from Other Sources

If using a photo that a friend gave you:

  • Please make sure your friend has given you permission to share the photo.
  • When you submit your photo, make sure to give the photo the correct attribution, listing the photographer’s name
  • When using a photo that captures individuals, please check that your friend has gotten permission from the subjects to share this photo. Images with identifiable people must have a waiver on file at your library.

If you are using a rights-free photo that you found on a website:

  • Make sure that you link back to the original source (i.e. a link to the Flickr page where you found your photo)

If you are using a photo of a book cover:

  • Using book cover images can be a tricky proposition. In general, we advise you to use images of book covers that come from publishers’ or authors’ websites
  • If you use a book cover image from a publisher’s or author’s website, always link back to the website

4. Using Photos from Conferences

If you are using a photo from a conference and it includes identifiable adults, you should make sure that you have verifiable consent. If your photo includes identifiable children, you should make sure that you have verifiable consent from both guardian and child.

Previous Grants

Can I see examples of previously written grant applications?

Yes. Visit the current LSTA 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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