Back to Books Grant Program Illinois State Library


The Illinois State Library is accepting applications to support the efforts of public and school libraries to develop their collections and engage readers of any age or ability in formal and independent reading or research. This offering allows for the purchase of books to support the reading and research needs of children, youth and adults.


Grant recipients will meet the purpose of the grant offering and address Goal 1 of the LSTA Five Year Plan: Position the Illinois library community to extend library services for all Illinois residents by providing access to information and ideas.


Range of Awards

Appropriate Use of Grant Funds

Fiction and/or nonfiction resources in multiple print formats may be budgeted but must be justified by your target audience's need.

Eligible formats include:

Multiple copies of the same title, preprocessing and shipping are acceptable if justified. All library materials must be accessible to your library users and made available, as your agency normally would, for resource sharing.

Ineligible Use of Grant Funds

Do not propose use of grant funds for any of the following:

Budgeting ineligible items will result in your application not being funded. If you have any questions about whether an item is appropriate, contact the State Library at

Application Guidelines

Back to Books grants are designed to assist public and school libraries in their quest to develop their collections and engage patrons or students in activities that highlight reading. Successful applications will:

  1. Provide a general description of the books that will be purchased: fiction, nonfiction, reading levels, genres and other details to provide insight into what areas of the collection will be developed in response to your target audience's need. Do not list specific titles unless given as an example.
  2. Describe at least one library activity, program or service through which the target audience will be engaged to read or use the new books. Strategies to encourage your patrons or students to use the new resources may be new, a continuation or expansion of existing library services, programs or activities:
  3. Choose one of the following LSTA intents: 1) Improve users' ability to obtain information resources, with emphasis on collection development; 2) Improve users' formal education, with emphasis on curriculum support.

Application and Reporting Forms

Review Process

Applications will be ranked based on the date/time stamp. Date/time of receipt will be a primary determining factor in recommendations for funding. Please retain an electronic copy of the email submission including the application for the library's files. As it is incumbent on the part of the applying library to prove timely submission, be sure your copy includes the email date/time stamp.

If you do not receive an "application received" response in 2 working days, call the State Library at 800-665-5576 ext. 2.

The review process is competitive. Each application must stand on its own merit and will be evaluated based on complete information provided in the application.

This is a competitive grant offering. The State Library is not responsible for, nor obligated to fund any grant application that has been assessed as unacceptable due to the following reasons:

  1. The funding source has been exhausted, or the application is received with an email date/time stamp after March 30, 2018, whichever comes first.
  2. Paper copies of the application are not acceptable. Scanned copies of grant applications are not allowed; and any applications that are not submitted in the required fillable PDF format may be eliminated from consideration for funding.
  3. The application narrative is not complete; inappropriate items are budgeted.

Legal Authority

Supporting Documentation


For more information on Back to Book grants, please call the Library Development Group at 217-524-8836; 800-665-5576 ext. 2; or email

Back to Books grants are made possible using LSTA grant funds provided to the Illinois State Library by IMLS through the Grants to States program.