LSTA Competitive Grants for FY 2019-20


The California State Library’s Competitive Grants are designed to give California libraries, library cooperative systems, and library-focused non-profit organizations the opportunity to receive funding to support projects that address the needs and aspirations of the communities they serve.

We are offering two options:

1. Local Competitive Grants, for libraries to request funds to support smaller projects that target the needs and aspirations of their local communities

Individual libraries may apply for a minimum of $15,000 and a maximum of $100,000, for projects that address needs and aspirations that have been identified in their local communities.

Libraries must apply by jurisdiction. Larger library systems may apply more than once as follows:

  • 1-5 branches, one application
  • 6-19 branches, two applications
  • 20 branches or more, three applications

A separate Letter of Intent must be submitted for each project for which you are applying for funding. We will fund all acceptable projects from smaller systems before awarding a second or third grant to a larger system.

2. Regional/Statewide Competitive Grants, for pairs, groups, and networks of libraries and partners to request funds for larger projects that are intended to have regional and/or statewide impact

Pairs, groups, and networks of libraries and partners may apply for a minimum of $50,000 and a maximum of $250,000, to support projects that will benefit California communities and effect positive change at the regional or statewide level. For these projects, the State Library is particularly interested in projects that will address workforce development or services for school-aged children and teens, but all projects that align with the Five Year Plan are eligible.

One agency must serve as lead for the proposed project, designate a project coordinator, submit the Letter of Intent, and administer the grant if the application is successful. The lead agency may be a California library, regional library cooperative system, not-for-profit consortium, or library association. A library or agency can be the lead applicant for only one new Regional/Statewide Competitive Grant per year (applications for continued funding for a multi-year project funded in 2018/19 are an exception, see below).

Projects may be designed as multi-year efforts that are implemented in phases and span up to three years. Applicants must note that although projects may be approved, in concept, as multi-year efforts, the State Library must make final funding decisions and awards on a year-by-year basis and according to the federal funds available.

Libraries/agencies that received a Pitch an Idea Regional/Statewide grant last year for a multi-year project should submit a Regional/Statewide Competitive Grant Letter of Intent for the second year of project funding. Those applying for a second year of funding under these circumstances are still eligible to apply for a new Regional/Statewide Competitive Grant.

All proposed projects must contribute to the achievement of the California State Library’s LSTA Five Year Plan 2018-2022 and relate directly to one of the Five Year Plan goals.

Libraries may apply for both Local Competitive Grants and Regional/Statewide Competitive Grants simultaneously according to the guidelines for each opportunity.

Both Opportunities

Applicants must submit a brief Letter of Intent to Apply prior to application. Letters of Intent must be submitted online by 11:59 PM, Thursday, February 28, 2019 (Please see PDF copy of the Letter of Intent document). A budget template must be attached to your Letter of Intent. Instructions for attaching the template will be provided within the online form.

The Letters of Intent will be reviewed by an outside panel as well as State Library staff and evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. The need or aspiration that the project is intended to address was identified through evidence (research, statistics, surveys, results of community conversations, etc.).
  2. The project includes a programming element that will effectively address the identified need or aspiration.
  3. Appropriate community partnerships have been identified (this is especially important for the regional/statewide grants).

The project aligns with the goals of the California State Library’s 2018-2022 LSTA Five Year Plan.

Please note: The Institute of Museum and Library Services requires that, for the purposes of LSTA grant funding, organizations formally recognized as partners in a project must contribute resources (either cash or in-kind), and there must be a written agreement between the partner and the grantee for this contribution. You do NOT have to have this written agreement at this stage in the application process.


Janet Coles
Library Development Services   916-651-0981

Mickie Potter
Library Development Services   916-653-4730

Application Process

The application process has four stages:


Prospective applicants submit Letter of Intent to Apply by
February 28, 2019


Letters of Intent are reviewed and applicants notified by
April 1, 2019


Selected libraries complete full grant applications by
May 20, 2019


Applications reviewed and applicants notified by
June 3, 2019

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