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Sorry it took me so long to pull this together. A big thanks to everyone
who responded.

Original post:

I'm a new librarian; my school is an alternative middle/high school with
a very small collection. According to several teachers, "the library
didn't function as a library" previously. Students were not allowed to
check out books for fear they would steal them. With the principal's
permission, I'm working on changing that, but we have less than 3,000
titles in total, and less than 1,000 fiction titles. I want to start
building up the collection and do some fundraising to make that happen.
However, because of the alternative school format, we are hesitant to go
the traditional book fair route. Does anyone have any creative
fundraising ideas that don't require students to stay after school? (Our
students are escorted to the bus at the end of each day, which makes
things tricky). Any ideas would be appreciated. I will post a hit.


Pennies for books, or Chang for books, just set up a collection from all
of your classes and the one that turns in the most in a month or so,
wins a pizza party or something else.

What about an "adopt-a-book" program?  Pick a list of titles you would
like to add, then ask friends and families to give you the purchase
price.  In return offer to put a book plate in with the name and a short
inscription and the date.  We've been doing this for years and I "sell"
about 100 books per year this way.  This way your kids don't have to do
anything but take a letter home.

I'm not sure what you mean by an alternative school, but if you intend
to raise funds from your students' families, if you don't have a
birthday book club in place, start one!  This won't bring in millions,
but it does provide a steady stream of new books for your library. 
There are many ways to run it, but nobody has to stay after school!  

*   We send home a birthday card (printed on card stock with the school
logo using MS Publisher).  It has a brief letter to parents on the back
explaining the idea.  We also enclose a donation card with the suggested
amounts of $15, $20, $30 or "other" options.  Parents write a check,
check a box, and fill in their child's name, homeroom teacher and birth
date.  I choose a book for the child, put their name, day and month of
birth and current year on a bookplate in the front, and they are the
first to check out the book.  I then post their names on a list on the
library web page.
*   Some people send home a list of books and their prices with a
birthday greeting, and people send in checks, or purchase the books and
send them in.  You could even post a wishlist on and families
could purchase from that.
*   Some people host a birthday party with cupcakes and bookmarks for
their donors each month.
*   Some schools take photos of their birthday book donors with the
books they donate and post them on a wall in the library.

I read your post with interest as my daughter teaches at an alternative
school in Virginia.  They, too have a very small library, but have no
librarian!  I have been fortunate to find a local publisher that donates
some books to the school.  At my school, our deaf students are generally
struggling readers, so a book fair would not make much money.  What I do
is run the BoxTops for Education program.  General Mills products have
BoxTops coupons on them.  I ask parents, staff, and other organizations
(churches, book groups, friends, relatives,…) to clip BoxTop coupons
from those products and send them in to school.  Each coupon is worth 10
cents.  You can collect and then submit your coupons twice a year. 
General Mills tallies the amount and then sends you a check!  Our
student population is small (130 students), but I average $500-600 per
year and that really helps the budget.

I would think about grant writing.  Your special needs situation should
make your school a good grant candidate

 We bring in quite a bit of money with Boxtops from General Mills.  I  
run the program through and a Boxtops chances contest each year.  I put collection 
bins in  
each room, and we offer an all-you-can-eat pizza party for the room  
that collects the most, with ice cream sunday parties for for second  
and third place rooms.  Then in the spring we have a "chances" jar  
and any student who brings in ten boxtops gets a chance in the chance  
jar.  Once a month we pull a name, and they win a prize from our  
prize collection.  We probably bring in about $3,000.00 a year from  
this.  Good luck,

I just spoke with a representative from Barnes and Noble book store. 
They do bookfairs at their store and will help with publicity.

I am also thinking about checking into using boxtops.

Sounds like you have a neat challenge ahead of you!
Here are some ideas for fundraising:
Hats Off to Books -Students and staff each pay $1 to wear an"
appropriate for school" hat on a designated day.
Birthday Books - parents/family members donate money for a book their
student may read first in honor of his/her
birthday. Bookplates mentioning the students may be attached inside the
Write letters to local adult groups, sororities, clubs, and businesses
seeking their financial help.
Buy gently used books the kids would like wherever you can find them.
Goodwill often has hardbound copies for $1.99.
Apply for grants.

Sarah Loch
Valley Park Alternative Center
4510 Bawell Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70808

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