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Tips for Applying for a Native American Library Services Basic Grant

February 11, 2019

By Sandra Toro, Ph.D.; Sarah Boonie; and Chelsea Cole

Tips for completing Basic Grant Form Application Paperwork

For more than twenty years, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has provided grants to tribal communities throughout the United States. Over the past ten years alone, IMLS made awards to more than 350 tribes and indigenous organizations in 33 states, including over 70 each in Alaska and California, 34 in Oklahoma, 24 in Washington, 19 in New Mexico, 15 in Arizona, 12 in Michigan, 7 in Minnesota, 7 in Montana, and 5 each in South Dakota and Utah.

Recently, IMLS announced an April 1 deadline for applications for the Native American Library Services Basic Grants program. Basic grants support existing tribal library operations and help maintain core library services. All federally recognized tribes and Alaskan Native villages and corporations with libraries are eligible and welcome to apply. Last year, IMLS awarded over 180 basic grants.

We’ve put together a new list of tips to help you submit a successful application package this year—here’s what you need to know.

Changes in Basic Grants

This year, basic grants now range from $6,000-$10,000. Only up to $3,000 of your total budget can be used for education/assessment activities. These activities include conference presentations and attendance, continuing education and training, and hiring consultants.

However, you’re not required to include education/assessment activities. If you would like to use all $10,000 for salaries, books, or other library-related budget items, that’s both allowable and appropriate! Please see the Notice of Funding Opportunity for more details.

Tips for a Successful Application

Please include all the required documents in your application package. We don’t want your application to be rejected because you forgot the SF-424S, the program information sheet, the library services plan, the budget, or the digital product form, if you need one.

Here are a few tips to help you complete all the forms correctly:

  • A digital product form is required if digital products like websites, apps, datasets, and other digital content, tools, and resources are created with IMLS funds.
  • Reminder: we can accept PDFs only. We cannot accept Word documents. Make sure all of your required application components are PDFs.
  • Make sure your budget items match what is described in your library services plan. Also, provide a separate description in your plan for education/assessment activities, if applicable.


All applicants are required to use Workspace on Here are a few resources to help you get started:

A few tips:

  • Make sure you don’t have any delinquent reports to federal agencies, since you will be ineligible to receive an award if this is the case. If you’re not sure of your status, please get in touch with us, and we can help you find out.

Getting Help

IMLS is here to help! Please read the current Notice of Funding Opportunity and reach out if you have any questions.

Our webinars are great refreshers for applicants who have not submitted a proposal for several years, as well as new applicants who are unfamiliar with the application process.

If you’re unsure if a cost is allowable or if you are not sure about what to include in your plan, we can talk with you and give you feedback on your ideas before you submit.

  • For questions about eligibility, your library services plan and project activities, the digital product form, or your budget, including allowability of costs, contact:
    • Sandra Toro, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer,, 202-653-4662
  • For questions about application requirements and deadlines, contact:

About the Authors

Dr. Sandra Toro is the lead program officer for the Native American and Native Hawaiian Library Services grant programs. She can be reached at

Sarah Boonie is a Program Specialist in the Office of Library Services. With a background in art and history, she works across all six of the discretionary grant programs in the Office of Library Services. She can be reached at

Chelsea Cole is a Program Specialist in the Office of Library Services, with a background in archaeology and digital collections. She assists with all discretionary grant programs and initiatives in the Office of Library Services. She can be reached at

Native American Library Services