SLIS graduate student puts classwork into action

Lowe's Community Partners grantsGraduate student Julia “Sandy” Hutchins in the School of Library & Information Studies put what she learned in class into real world action, resulting in a $12,000 grant for the Leesburg Public Library from the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation.

Hutchins, who will complete her Master’s Degree in Library Science in May, used the content she learned in Grant Writing, Evaluation and Administration (LIS 5426) taught by Richard “Ted” Chaffin to apply for the grant which will be used to create a youth laptop computer lab for the library where works in Leesburg, Fla.

“I had never written a grant before I took the class,” Hutchins said.  “The great thing about the class was you pick one project at the beginning and work on it throughout the semester.  I was able to get so much feedback from the professor and the teaching assistant.  They helped with making sure I was making the grant specific to what we were applying for.

“I based the grant on my own work and something I would like to do at the library where I work in Leesburg.  At the end of the semester I turned in my grant and got an ‘A’ on it.  I thought it was a really great idea to do a youth laptop lab because we do not have a facility to teach computer classes to children.”

After the class ended last spring, Hutchins hated to see all of her hard work be wasted on a project that was hypothetical.

“I had gotten all this wonderful feedback from the professor during the semester, so I gave the grant to my library director and she submitted it to the Lowes Charitable and Educational Foundation,” Hutchins said.

The Leesburg library was awarded $12,000 to purchase 10 laptop computers, its’ own Minecraft server, and video editing software.  Young children and their parents will be offered classes on computer safety, while older children can play a popular video game or create their own commercials for the library which will be shown on public television.

The equipment for the new youth laptop computer lab has been ordered and Hutchins is hoping the library can start classes beginning in January.

“Sandy, through hard work, was an extremely successful student in my very challenging LIS 5426 Grant Writing Evaluation and Administration class this past spring,” Chaffin, who is now the Head of Instructional Support Services of the Olin Library at Washington University in St. Louis, said.

“It is wonderful to see such successful results in blending the course skills with those imparted by her colleagues at the Leesburg Public Library to receive a grant to enhance the service options for her library’s patrons. Sandy had never written a grant prior to the grants class and she now demonstrates a perfect blend of her abilities and determination coupled with the critical thinking, writing, and team collaboration skills that the course was designed to foster. She has an amazing career ahead of her.”

Founded in 1957, the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation funds nonprofit organizations and public agencies that support our charitable goals. The foundation’s primary philanthropic focus centers on K-12 public education and community improvement.