Financing Your Professional Development as a Newbie Librarian

by Maddie Hines

When first getting into the library profession, a mentor once told me, “Go to everything, because you don’t know anything.” So, for my first three years in the field, I signed up for conferences, lectures, webinars, symposiums, you name it. I was constantly volunteering for stuff, while trying not to break the bank. If nothing else, we first-gen college students are a pack of persistent and relentless scavengers when it comes to resources and funding. 

Unless you’re already established within your field, most employers won’t outright pay for an expensive conference attendance (although many will pay for your membership fees). However, the old adage, “It doesn’t hurt to ask” always applies. Your employer may have excess money left over from the previous fiscal year or perhaps, deep in your organization’s policy manual exists information to help you bargain for funding for professional development. Sometimes organizations bank on employees not doing the work of filling out applications and getting approvals for special funding. Do the work. It will ALWAYS be worth it.

But, as we are mostly public servants, money can be tight and we can’t rely on our employers to finance our professional development. This is where grants come in. has a nice list of grant funding available for all kinds of niche librarianship fields. But since this is the NMRT blog, I’ve curated a list for travel and professional development specifically for newbs like us. And because we’re all on deadlines, I’ve arranged the list by due date (you’re welcome)! So whether your goal is to attend ALA annual for the first time, or pursue a short fellowship, these grants are a great place to start.

Ebsco Midwinter Meeting Sponsorship

Award Amount: $1,500

Description: This annual award is designed to allow librarians to attend the ALA Midwinter Meeting

Eligibility: Must be ALA members, must currently work as a librarian or be a paraprofessional currently working in a library.

App Deadline: 11/01/2018


Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship

Award Amount: $4,000

Description: The Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship provides a $4,000 grant to a qualified children’s librarian to spend a total of four weeks or more reading and studying at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature of the George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Eligibility: Must be a personal member of ALSC, have at least (8) years experience in direct service to children and a graduate degree from an ALA-accredited program.

App Deadline: 11/01/2018


Baker & Taylor Conference Grant

Award Amount: $1,000

Description: The two grants of $1,000 each are funded by Baker & Taylor and are awarded to librarians who work for or directly with young adults in a public or school library or library agency to enable them to attend the Annual Conference for the first time.

Eligibility: All applicants must be current personal members of ALA/YALSA at the time the application is submitted.

App Deadline: 12/01/2018


Ebsco ALA Annual Conference Sponsorship

Award Amount: $1,000

Description: This annual award consisting of $1,000 for actual reimbursed expenses is designed to allow librarians to attend the ALA’s Annual Conference.

Eligibility: Applicant must be an ALA member. Applicants must not supervise another professional librarian (MLS).

App Deadline: 12/01/2018


First Step Award/Wiley Professional Development Grant

Award Amount: $1,500

Description: This Wiley Professional Development Grant is intended to provide librarians new to the continuing resources field with the opportunity to broaden their perspective and to encourage professional development in ALA Conference and participation in Continuing Resources Section activities. The cash award is applicable toward round trip transportation, lodging, registration fees, etc.

Eligibility: Open to ALCTS members with five years or less of professional experience in continuing resources and who have not attended a previous ALA Annual Conference.

App Deadline: 12/01/2018


Jan Merrill-Oldham Professional Development Award

Award Amount: $1,250

Description: This grant, awarded by the ALCTS Preservation and Reformatting Section, is to provide librarians and paraprofessionals new to the preservation field with the opportunity to attend a professional conference and encourages professional development through active participation at the national level.

Eligibility: Have five or fewer years of experience in the field of library and archives preservation, currently work as a librarian or paraprofessional within a library or archives preservation department or who has preservation responsibilities within their institution, or a person currently enrolled in a preservation-related graduate program. Have never attended an ALA Annual Conference.

App Deadline: 12/01/2018


Mango NMRT Professional Development Grant

Award Amount: $1,000

Description: The purpose of the MANGO/NMRT Professional Development Grant (sponsored by Mango Languages) is to encourage professional development and participation by new ALA members in national ALA and NMRT activities.

Eligibility: Applicants must be personal ALA/NMRT members who are working within the continental United States.

App Deadline: 12/15/2018


Bogle Pratt International Travel Fund

Award Amount: $1,000

Description: An award of $1,000 is given to an ALA personal member to attend their first international conference.

Eligibility: Recipients must be personal members of the American Library Association (ALA) for at least one full year.

App Deadline: 01/01/2019


About the BRASS Academic Business Librarianship Travel Award

Award Amount: $1250

Description: Established in 2012, this award presents a citation and $1,250 to an individual new to the field of academic business librarianship in order to support attendance to the ALA Annual Conference.

Eligibility: The winner does not need to be a member of ALA, RUSA, or BRASS but preference will be given to those that are, indeed members

App Deadline: 01/06/2019


Brass Public Librarian Support Award

Award Amount: $1,250

Description: This annual award sponsored by Morningstar, offers a cash award of $1,250* in travel funds for a public librarian, who has performed outstanding business reference service, and who requires financial assistance, to attend the ALA Annual Conference.

Eligibility: The candidate must be a member of ALA. If not a RUSA/BRASS member, the recipient must join RUSA/BRASS upon being selected to receive the award.

  • The recipient shall have a demonstrated interest in providing business reference services. This may be demonstrated by involvement in special projects, creation of a business website, business-related programming, publications, and related activities.
  • The award will be given to a recipient whose conference attendance is not fully funded by their institution.
  • Recipient must be willing to participate in BRASS activities at the ALA Conference for which the award has been made and to write a short statement regarding his or her experience at the conference for publication (e.g. RUSA Update) following the event

App Deadline: 01/15/2019

Maddie Hines
Digital Services Manager
Prince George’s County Memorial Library System

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