Best Practices

Best Practices for Library Grants

Communicate with the Foundation

All applicants are encouraged to contact our office at the beginning of their grant project plans. Our Director of Grants Management, Karin Gerstenhaber, is available to answer any questions and assist you through the grant process. These conversations often result in stronger requests and therefore, greater impact in the library. They also serve as a preliminary review prior to submission.

Application suggestions:

  • Tell us your story. While we would like to see every library, it’s just not possible but the more you share in your narrative the better we can understand your vision for your library.
  • Some requests will not require much narrative but it is still important for you to answer the questions thoughtfully, use complete sentences, check grammar and spelling. Consider asking someone else to review it for glaring mistakes before submitting it to the Foundation.
  • Take advantage of a great resource. The Texas State Library has books available for borrowing in the areas of Marketing, Technology, Grant-seeking and Leadership/Management. More information is available on their webpage: or email them at

Further suggestions for specific projects


  • Do your homework. Talk to libraries that are already automated. Visit the exhibit hall at TLA to meet vendors and get a good overview of the variety of automation products.
  • Select an automation vendor and get a quote for software, equipment and supplies and a list of system requirements.
  • Automation Software should be Windows-based and web-based.
  • The library must show that the shelf list is current and collection weeding is to be completed.
  • The experience of the Tocker Foundation is that retrospective conversion is better achieved by contracting with an appropriate vendor. In house retrospective conversion is difficult in that the task consumes valuable volunteer & staff time, does not provide a double check data base and does not provide warranties on the final project.
  • Retrospective conversion vendors can be separate from automation software vendors.


  • The foundation will fund a maximum of two computers per library per request. Tablets are eligible.
  • Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of state-negotiated contract prices and a mandated three year warranty. Check with your vendor to insure you are getting the appropriate discount. Also visit the Texas State Library’s website for more information:
  • Vendor quotes should include specifications for the computer such as type of computer, speed, RAM, hard disk drive.

Library Materials

  • Use the narrative portion of your application to demonstrate that you have recently assessed your collection and identified the areas of greatest need. Fiction, non-fiction, reference, large print, non-English, audio books, video/DVD, adult, young adult, children’s music, etc. Remember that we do not fund e-books or fees to join e-book platforms.
  • Requests should not exceed the amount of materials that can be purchased and processed within one year. As a general rule, applications for materials will be considered within the context of the number of staff available to select, acquire, and process materials.
  • Take advantage of state-negotiated prices through various book vendors. Visit the Texas State Library’s contracts page at:
    Click on ‘Print Materials and Multimedia.’ Then click on ‘Category Guide with Discounts.’
  • It is not necessary to list each title on the application form.
  • Collection requests are capped at $5,000.
  • Select quality, shelf-ready materials from a reputable, library vendor instead of Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Furniture and Shelving

Updating the furniture and shelving in your library can make a big impact. Planning such a large project frequently involves a re-imagining of the entire library and an assessment of its adaptability to the changing needs of its patrons and the community at large. Many projects of this size generate so much excitement that they frequently attract other sources of support and expand the scope of the original plan.

  • Furniture and shelving requests must include a current floor plan, a revised floor plan and an itemized vendor quote. These documents are vital to the Foundation Board and the Grant Review Committee in their decision-making process.
  • Select quality, durable library furniture from a reputable, library vendor. Although custom made furniture can be beautiful, it is not the best choice for small public libraries.
  • Select computer workstations that hide the wiring, provide adjustable keyboard trays, and can accommodate wheelchairs.
  • Select computer chairs that are easily adjusted and comfortable.
  • Select standard metal library or wood shelving from a reputable vendor who will visit your library to help determine the amount of shelving needed and design the layout. Metal shelving is more flexible and less costly than the considerably more expensive wood shelving.
  • Shelving maximum height is 72”.
  • Plan for your present and future needs. See IMLS publication, Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills for an excellent source of information on the libraries of today.
  • Visit the exhibit hall during TLA’s annual conference to see the selections of different vendors and discuss your project with them.
  • Follow ADA requirements when selecting and installing all furniture and shelving.
  • Be sure to itemize shipping and installation costs in the total budget.
  • Furniture and shelving requests are capped at $50,000.