LSTA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Applications

I have an idea for a grant project. What do I do next?

I have an idea for a grant project. What do I do next?

First, read through the grant application guidelines to gauge if your idea is allowable under the program.    

Another place to start is by looking at prior years’ LSTA-funded projects for ideas on how to implement your project.  IMLS maintains a searchable database of all LSTA projects nationwide.

Next, gather as much information as needed to help us help you.  Have a rough idea of the budget, partnerships, and activities necessary to carry out the project.  What are your outcomes? How will you measure them?  

Then, contact us to talk about your idea and gather feedback for the application.

Where can I find grant application information?

Where can I find grant application information?

Application guidelines and information is maintained on our website.  The Library Development blog also includes blog posts about all grant opportunities.  

Continuing Education Scholarships guide, sample application, and application are maintained on our website.

What is the matching requirement?

What is the matching requirement?

EZ and Project grants require matching funds.  The matching minimum is 25% of the total project; however, if your project has eligible partners, the matching minimum is reduced to 10%.  

Multi-year Project grants in their 2nd year require 33% match regardless of partnerships, while 50% is expected in the 3rd year.

Matching funds:

  • Consist of cash expenditures paid by the library.
  • May come from a combination of local or state funds or funds from non-governmental agencies (e.g. foundations, service clubs).  Federal funds may not be used as match.  
  • May only be spent on allowable expenditures.
  • Must be available at the time a funded library signs the grant agreement.
  • Must be spent during the funding period from July 1 – June 30.
  • The source(s) of matching funds must be clearly identified in the grant application.
  • Indirect Costs may not be charged against Matching Funds.
  • All or part of Indirect Costs may be applied as match in lieu of payment to the library

See “What is Cost Share” below for information on a subset of match called Cost Share.
 

What is Cost Share?

What is Cost Share?

Cost Share for salary and benefits of existing full-time staff who will work on grant-funded activities is allowable.  Cost Share may be used for up to 25% of the required match, to offset the match burden.  It is counted as match.

Use caution when adding Cost Share to your budget table in the application.  It is not helpful in some instances.  For example, if you include Cost Share and you have a Planning grant with no other expenditures, you will still need to pay your consultant their full fee, so it makes more sense to provide your match from your payment to them rather than Cost Share.  
 

Does my Friends group count as a Partner?

Does my Friends group count as a Partner?

While Friends groups can contribute to the match requirement, they don’t meet the definition of a partner, and don’t lead to a reduced match.
 

We are applying for a planning project grant, but we haven’t identified a consultant yet. Can we submit our application without a consultant?

We are applying for a planning project grant, but we haven’t identified a consultant yet. Can we submit our application without a consultant?

It is the expectation for planning grants that quotes will have been gathered from consultants and the most competitive one selected.  Without knowing who the consultant and their scope of work is, it is very hard for grant reviewers to justify an unknown cost. Without a consultant selected, it appears as if the project isn't ready to move forward and will be questioned during the review.  Rationale would need to be included as to why a consultant hasn't been selected.

What is the purpose of the Letter of Intent?

What is the purpose of the Letter of Intent?

The primary purpose of the Letter of Intent (LOI) is to demonstrate need, the planned methodology and the sustainability of the proposed project.  Project need must be well-documented in the LOI and show user focus.  We would like to see how the need was determined and the value the project brings to the community in addressing this need.  For example, if you have focus group data or evidence-based research, provide the significance of those findings in your LOI.  Ensure that planned purchases support the project.  

Award & Agreement

My library has been awarded a grant. I’m the Project Manager of it. What’s the next step?

My library has been awarded a grant. I’m the Project Manager of it. What’s the next step?

After you’ve been notified that your library has been awarded a grant, State Library staff prepares the Agreement package.  This takes a bit of time.  Once we have all the information prepared, the agreement will come to the Library Director via Docusign.  This starts the signing process.  Once the Library Director, Authorizing Official, and State Librarian have all signed the agreement and all supplemental documents are received, State Library staff will email the Project Manager and Library Director executed agreement information including when you can spend funds.  

EZ and Project grant funds cannot be spent until after July 1st AND the grant agreement is executed AND you’ve been notified of this.  

Mini-grant funds typically begin after the start of the new program year; funds cannot be spent until the grant agreement is executed AND you’ve been notified of this.
 

I haven’t received my agreement email yet. What’s the problem?

I haven’t received my agreement email yet. What’s the problem?

Once you’ve been notified that your agreement is forthcoming, we prepare the agreement and send it out via DocuSign.  If the Library Director, or the local authorized representative doesn’t receive the email with the link to sign the agreement, the following steps might help determine the problem.  In order: 

1.    Do you have a DocuSign account?  If so, log into that account, see if the envelope is there, and if not, check the Notification Settings.  If you don’t have a DocuSign account, skip this.

2.    Did you check your spam/junk folder?  Depending on your agency’s email settings, it may have gone there.  The email would have come from a docusign.com or docusign.net email address.

3.    Do you have an alternative email address we can resend the envelope to?  If so, email lsta@ncdcr.gov, and let us know what email address to change it to.  After we make that change, DocuSign will send out the updated agreement.  

 
4.    If neither of the above steps work, let us know.  We will directly email you the document, with instructions on how to physically sign the agreement and mail it back to us.   
 

My project includes salaries, starting July 1st. Should I prepare in advance?

My project includes salaries, starting July 1st. Should I prepare in advance?

Once you’ve been notified that your grant has been awarded, plan the signatures in advance.  For instance, if your internal process to accept the award involves board approval, you may wish to schedule to be on the docket as soon as possible.  While our Agreement process will be expedited via DocuSign, Agreements aren’t considered executed until the Library Director, Local Government or Institutional Representative, and the State Librarian have all signed the agreement.  Funds cannot be encumbered or spent until the agreement has been fully executed AND after July 1st.  Plan ahead to avoid lapsed salary.

Who should sign under “Local Government or Institutional Representative” on the Agreement?

Who should sign under “Local Government or Institutional Representative” on the Agreement?

Whomever has the signing authority to accept federal grant funds within your organization can sign there.   It is often a Board Chair, County Manager, or County Finance Officer and is very rarely the Library Director.  After receiving notice that you’ve been awarded a grant, we’ll need the first and last name of this person, as well as their email address, so that we can create the DocuSign Agreement package.  This person will be the 2nd signer, after the Library Director, and will sign the 2nd signature area on the Agreement, as well as on the Certification of Debarment and Suspension.  This person may also sign other supplemental documents as needed.
 

I’ve been awarded a Conference Scholarship, but our agreement isn’t complete. The conference is filling up fast! Can I register for the conference and book my hotel to make sure I can get in?

I’ve been awarded a Conference Scholarship, but our agreement isn’t complete. The conference is filling up fast! Can I register for the conference and book my hotel to make sure I can get in?

 

We understand that sometimes conferences fill up fast.  However, any expenses, including registration and hotel, will not be reimbursed if the purchase date is prior to the date the agreement is executed.  When the agreement is fully executed, we’ll send you and the Library Director an email letting you know that you can now spend funds.  If you’ve registered for the conference and booked your hotel prior to the agreement being fully executed, cancel your registration and hotel until we’ve notified you that you can spend funds.  
 

What supplemental information do we need to provide with the agreement?

What supplemental information do we need to provide with the agreement?

All grants require that the agreement be signed, as well as a Certification Regarding Debarment and Suspension.  

From all grantees, we also require a current copy of your agency’s Conflict of Interest policy.  If you’ve had a recent grant, we likely have the current copy on file, so we won’t need you to send it again.  If there’s been a change in your policy, or you aren’t certain we have it, please provide it to us.

Grants involving partners that qualify the project for a reduced match must provide the LSTA Partner Statement for each partner.

Grants to public libraries which will be purchasing electronic supplies that access the Internet will need to provide a CIPA Certification.  

Non-Governmental libraries will need to provide a Statement of No Overdue Tax Debts.

Libraries that haven’t had a grant through us in at least 4 years, and who don’t receive State Aid, will need to provide a substitute W-9 so that your library can be set-up in the payment system.  

When we send you the agreement package via DocuSign, we’ll provide the supplemental documents needed.

 

Managing your grant

Can I revise the budget of my awarded grant?

Can I revise the budget of my awarded grant?

Yes.  Here are a few scenarios to help walk you through what to do.  

No budget revision request is needed in the following instances:

  • If you are purchasing more of something with no change to the budget.  For example, if you planned to purchase 3 computers but the cost dropped since creating your budget, and you can now buy 4 computers.
  • If you are changing the brand/vendor, with no change to the budget, or the new brand/vendor is less expensive.
  • If you are purchasing additional supplies necessary to support a purchase such as adapters or power cords, and you need to shift up to $1,000 of LSTA funds from other budget categories in order to purchase.

A budget revision request is required in all other instances, including:

  • If you are purchasing more of something, or are purchasing additional necessary supplies, and you need to shift over $1,000 of LSTA funds from other budget categories in order to purchase. 

To submit a budget revision request:

  1. Create a Word document with the following information at the top of the page.
    1. Library Name:
    2. Grant Category:
    3. State Project Code:
    4. Name of Person Submitting:
    5. Telephone:
    6. Grant Award Amount:
    7. Original Match Amount:
  2. Insert the current Budget Table, either from the awarded grant application, or from a previously approved budget revision.  Add a column to the table labeled “Changes” and make additions or subtractions, as needed, only in this column so it is clear which items are different. 
    1. If the revised budget totals less than the original award, the match amount may be revised accordingly. 
    2. If the revised budget exceeds the original award, any additional costs are the responsibility of the library and the match amount may be revised accordingly. 
  3. Below this, write a narrative description that corresponds to each change to the Budget Table which explains the reason for the change.
  4. Submit the Budget Revision Request to lsta@ncdcr.gov.
     
I’m the Project Manager, but I’m leaving this library soon. What do I do?

I’m the Project Manager, but I’m leaving this library soon. What do I do?

It is very important that we have current project manager contact information so we can easily communicate about the grant.  If you are leaving your library, please email us at lsta@ncdcr.gov to let us know about the change.  Please also ensure that your Library Director communicates with us when a new Project Manager is chosen. 

My project includes Equipment. How do I proceed?

My project includes Equipment. How do I proceed?

Equipment with a per unit price above $5,000 requires written approval from the State Library prior to purchase.  Complete the LSTA Equipment Approval Request Form and await approval from the State Library before purchasing the equipment.  Once approved, we’ll let you know that you can proceed with the purchase.  

The equipment will then be inventoried annually at the beginning of each year for the remainder of its useful life. If Fair Market Value at the time of surplus or disposal exceeds $5,000, disposal must be cleared with the State Library.  
 

My reimbursement request includes a software/service license that goes beyond June 30. Do I have to prorate the amount?

My reimbursement request includes a software/service license that goes beyond June 30. Do I have to prorate the amount?

If you’d like to prorate the amount, you may.  If not, LSTA staff will do it for you and let you know what it calculated to.  

To prorate the amount, use https://www.wolframalpha.com/ and ask how many days are between the date of the invoice or start of service to June 30th.  Divide the cost of the licence/service by 365, then multiply it by the number of days until the end of the program year.  That will give you the prorated amount.
 

I don’t understand the question on the reimbursement request about sales tax eligibility.

I don’t understand the question on the reimbursement request about sales tax eligibility.

Under N.C.G.S. 105-164.14, your library might be eligible for a sales tax refund via the State’s Department of Revenue.  If this is the case, indicate “yes” on the form.  The State Library cannot reimburse you for sales tax, since another State department may.  If you are not eligible for a sales tax refund via the State’s Department of Revenue, then you would indicate “no” on the form, and you can request reimbursement for sales tax from the State Library.
 

My Amazon invoices include “shipping and tax.” Is that ok?

My Amazon invoices include “shipping and tax.” Is that ok?

 

Amazon has two different sets of invoice types that we commonly see.  One set has the details for the purchase, called the Final Details for Order, which looks like the image to the left.  This clearly shows the subtotal, the shipping and handling fee, then total before tax as well as tax to be collected.  This is the strongly preferred Amazon invoice type for us to verify your purchases, and it leaves a clean audit trail.

Amazon also has another view, called Current Invoice Details, shown to the right.  In this view, we see a line for “SHIPPING AND TAX.”  This is not preferred because we have no idea what portion was for shipping and what portion if any was for taxes.  If this type of Amazon invoice is submitted, we will ask you to clarify how much was shipping and how much was tax.  

What reports am I expected to complete for the grant?

What reports am I expected to complete for the grant?

EZ and Project grants require a Project Status Report that will be due either mid-year (January) or quarterly.  Your Agreement will let you know how often you’ll be expected to submit this report.  This report helps us understand how your project is going, and helps us forecast unspent funds, which we need to repurpose in-house by the end of the grant period.  We’ll send out a reminder to the Project Manager with a link to the report when the due date nears.

EZ and Project grants also require a Final Report, which we use to create our overall report to IMLS.  After your final expenditures (and when the form is ready for use) we’ll send you a link to the report.  See the Final Reports section for EZ and Project grants for a more thorough explanation.  

Continuing Education Conference Scholarships require a different Final Report, which is usually a narrative report regarding your experience.  The link for that report will be sent out by the State Library staff leading the grant.  

EZ Edge Technology grants require a different Final Report, which will be sent to the Project Manager sometime in late Spring/early Summer after projects are done.

Other grants may also have Final Reports, for which the State Library staff leading the grant will contact you.
 

Can I change the required survey questions for my activities?

Can I change the required survey questions for my activities?

We will accept survey results where the original questions are only minorly changed, such as to customize the question for your specific activity.  For example, if you changed, “I learned something by participating in this library activity” to “I learned how to code by participating in this coding program,” we would accept the change because the intention of the question is still the same.  

You can add additional questions to the surveys if you’d like, but at least the results of the required questions must be submitted to us.  

Changes beyond this are not encouraged.  If the question is too far from the original, we may ask you to gather responses again. 
 

Final Report

What is the Final Report?

What is the Final Report?

The Final Report is an online form that the Project Manager completes to inform LSTA staff about the entirety of the project.  The final report doesn't contain any financial figures rather explains how the funds were spent through out the year.

Can I include pictures in the Final Report?

Can I include pictures in the Final Report?

Yes.  We ask that pictures either don’t show children, or at minimum their faces are obscured.  Pictures submitted that clearly show children’s faces won’t be included in the Final Reports we send to IMLS.

What other attachments should I include in the Final Report?

What other attachments should I include in the Final Report?

If you had a planning grant, please include the resulting planning document.  Also include the survey results, if needed.  See the Surveys section for more details on if a survey is a required.

You can also include flyers, brochures, URLs and anything else that supports your report.  See the Acknowledgements section to ensure that material you include has the proper acknowledgement statement, if needed.  Documents submitted without the proper acknowledgement statement may not be included in the report we send to IMLS.
 

What happens after I submit my Final Report?

What happens after I submit my Final Report?

After you submit your Final Report, State Library Staff transfer it over into IMLS’s State Programs Report (SPR).  The SPR contains all LSTA-funded projects both internal to the State Library and awarded grants.  The SPR doesn’t exactly match the Final Report filled out by grantees, so staff may contact you if questions arise when transferring your report.  Staff will also edit the report to better fit the SPR including re-organizing information, adding detail, and omitting excessive detail when needed.  This helps make the overall report consistent, and reduces error and questions.

After the SPR is submitted to IMLS, they review it.  In the late Winter or early Spring, IMLS contacts the State Library with any questions they have.  The State Library then makes necessary changes, and re-submits the report.  IMLS will then approve the report.

IMLS then makes the report public on their database.  You can search for completed approved projects by year and state.   
 

What activities should I include in my final report?

What activities should I include in my final report?

See the Activity Worksheet.  As a general rule of thumb, if an activity type took more than 20% of time/money/effort, then it should be included in your final report.