The State Library of Oregon works to improve library service for all Oregonians through their local public libraries. As state-funded non-competitive grants, Ready to Read funds are an essential part of this mission. Grants are distributed annually to all legally established public libraries who apply for and report on their yearly grant spending. In the late 1970’s, state funding was initially allocated to support libraries serving preschool aged children. This has changed over time to include an expanded focus on summer reading projects. The Oregon Revised Statutes governing the Ready to Read grant program can be found in 357.740-357.780.
Ready to Read grants help communities support our youngest Oregonians using the below early literacy and summer reading outcomes to direct their work. Outcomes are broad enough to allow all libraries, regardless of size and location, to address a meaningful early literacy and/or summer reading community need. Libraries choose annually which outcomes they will work towards in their communities.
Early Literacy Outcome #1: Young children develop the 6 early literacy skills by the time they start kindergarten.
Early Literacy Outcome #2: Adults enjoy reading, singing, talking, writing, and playing with their young children regularly to help them develop early literacy skills.
Summer Reading Outcome #1: Youth maintain or improve their literacy skills over the summer.
Summer Reading Outcome #2: Youth demonstrate their love of reading and learning by choosing to engage in these activities during their free time over the summer.
Summer Reading Outcome #3: Adults enjoy spending time engaging in early literacy activities with youth over the summer to help them develop literacy skills.
Each biennium, the Legislature allocates a total amount of Ready to Read funding, half of which is distributed each year of the biennium. Grant amounts are calculated each fiscal year with a formula assigning 80% of the grant based on the number of children ages 0-14 being served, and 20% based on the library's geographic area service boundaries. Libraries receive a minimum grant amount of $1000 and apply for the exact amount they are allocated each year. For 2023, the State Library plans to distribute $801,345 to 143 public libraries in December 2022 to use in their Ready to Read projects.
For 2023, some allocated grant amounts may look slightly different than in previous years. We incorporated 2020 census data this year, and some libraries updated their geographic service boundaries. Additionally, we saw population growth in many counties. In some places it was more adult population growth, in others, more youth growth. You can view the 2023 preliminary grant amounts posted here. Please also remember that this is not a final amount - if any libraries decide not to apply for their allocated amount, their allocation is redistributed among all applying libraries.
The timeline for the Ready to Read grant cycle is set by the Oregon Administrative Rules, 543-040-005 – 543-000-0040.
|Applications for 2023 Ready to Read grant open||July 1, 2022|
|2023 Ready to Read applications due||August 31, 2022|
|2022 Ready to Read reports open||November 1, 2022|
|2022 Ready to Read Report due||December 1, 2022|
|All 2022 grant funds must be spent||December 31, 2022|
|2023 grant funds distributed||December 31, 2022|
|2023 Ready to Read projects begin||January 1, 2023|
|Applications for 2024 Ready to Read grants open||July 1, 2023|
|2024 Ready to Read applications due||August 31, 2023|
|2023 Ready to Read report opens||November 1, 2023|
|2023 Ready to Read reports due||December 1, 2023|
|All 2023 grant funds must be spent||December 31, 2023|
Ready to Read Applications are open from July 1st to August 31st of any given year. Grant applications are only accepted online. For detailed application instructions, please see the Application Guidelines Step by Step.
Youth Services Consultant Greta Bergquist will initially review and recommend applications for approval to the State Library Board at their Fall meeting. Incomplete applications may be returned to libraries for resubmission before October 1st. The State Library Board convenes in the Fall and will approve Ready to Read projects.
2023 Ready to Read Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
• Proposed activities support youth achieving the targeted outcome/s.
• Proposed activities support caregivers achieving the targeted outcome/s.
• Ways to measure progress toward outcome/s are clearly described and are an accurate way to assess progress.
• Project partners contribute significantly to the project.
• The budget is clear, sufficient, and grant-related costs are allowable under state guidelines.
Please reach out to State Library staff for any questions or ideas you have, we are happy to talk through a project idea.
Please keep us up to date with any changes to staffing that will impact this process. In your library’s online profile, you can log in to change the name of previous grant coordinators and/or add anyone else you’d like us to keep in contact with. If you would like help with this, please let us know by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
All Ready to Read grants are based on the population each library serves and the geographic area each library’s service area covers, so grant amounts are set at specific amounts each year. The lowest grant amount is $1000, and the largest is typically awarded to Multnomah County Library. For example, in 2018, Multnomah County Library served 129,586 youth ages 0-14 and received a Ready to Read grant amount of $111,321. See the 2023 Grant Amounts above to see how much is allocated for each library.
The range of allowable expenditures is quite large, from giveaway books to technical equipment. However, there are also things which state funds generally cannot be used for, including any design work of Summer Reading materials. (These are provided to all libraries through access to the statewide summer reading program, which includes graphic design materials.) If you are unsure about a proposed grant-related cost, please ask!
We do not require projects to match grant requests with local or in-kind funding. However, it is always good to include these resources in your grant application budget. This demonstrates that you have either found partners for your project (in the form of cash or in-kind support) or have thought deeply about the sometimes hidden costs of projects. Additionally, sharing your local and in-kind funding helps calculate the leverage Ready to Read funds have in their communities, which in turn helps demonstrate their value.
Ready to Read grant funds are distributed in December of each year. Library funding structures vary widely across the state. Some libraries directly deposit grant funds into their accounts, some libraries have a fiscal agent – such as their city or county – who take responsibility for the grant funds.
Head to your Application online. You can see your library information at the top of the screen before the application tabs start. There are two buttons on the right hand side, one says “Application Packet” and one says “Question List.” You can click “Application Packet” to get a draft application that is printable and or viewable via e-mail for anyone you need to share it with.
Sometimes projects start and unanticipated costs arise. If you need to reallocate costs above 10% of your total Ready to Read grant award from one budget category to another, please check in with State Library staff. As long as the scope or intended outcomes of your project are not significantly altered, your request will likely be approved quickly.
Every project is different, but it is crucial to articulate the desired outcome(s) of your proposed project, and to also think about how you will be able to reasonably measure how your project delivered on those stated outcomes. Stating that your project helped 128 kids sign up for library cards is not an outcome, that's an output. An outcome would be something like, Of the 128 previously unserved families our project reached out to, 80% say they now use the library on a regular basis. An outcome is often reflected as a change in attitude and/or behavior.
A short and excellent article (written by librarians for librarians!) to help get you started thinking about outcomes is:
Hosseini-Ara, M., & Jones, R. (2013, June). Overcoming Our Habits and Learning to Measure Impact. Computers in Libraries, 33(5), Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/jun13/Hosseini-Ara_Jones--Overcoming-Our-Habits-and-Learning-to-Measure-Impact.shtml
Alternately, the Institute of Museum of Library Services (IMLS) offers some wonderful context and examples of outcomes based evaluation practices in this Outcome Based Evaluation Basics guide on their website.
You can find additional resources geared specifically to Early Literacy and Summer Reading outcomes in the Application Guidelines Step by Step.
If you have exciting things happening with Ready to Read, please let us know! We love hearing how things are working at your library! You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For official documentation purposes, every library reports annually on their funded Ready to Read projects. Reports are due December 1st of any given year.
Please submit concerns or complaints to Buzzy Nielsen, Program Manager for Library Support and Development Services, at email@example.com or 971-375-3486. Formal complaints will be forwarded to the State Librarian and the State Library Board and a response will be made. You may also reach out to members of the State Library Board.