Student Dolly Moehrle Uses Grant-Writing Skills to Support Library Programs

Community Profile

MLIS student Dolly Moehrle applied knowledge from her grant-writing class at San José State University School of Information to obtain funding for community-wide programming at her library.

Moehrle secured $10,000 in grants from two different organizations to fund the Camarillo Public Library’s “One City, One Book” event, which will take place in March 2012. The library will host book discussions, film screenings, and community events around Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle’s memoir of his work with young gang members in Los Angeles.

“These are both really interesting grants, and we were lucky enough to be able to combine them into one big program to encourage community discussions about compassion and how people relate to one another,” Moehrle said.

With Moehrle’s help, the library received grants from the California Council for the Humanities’ annual California Reads program, and from the ALA/Fetzer Institute’s Building Common Ground program. The 2012 theme of California Reads is “Searching for Democracy,” and the grant will sponsor a community-wide read of A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, by Rebecca Solnit, as a companion to Tattoos on the Heart. Several other local libraries were also awarded the California Reads grant, and Moehrle is looking forward to sharing ideas with colleagues and bringing different groups together.

The California Reads grant goes hand-in-hand with the Building Common Ground program, which promotes discussions of community, civility, and compassion. The Camarillo Public Library was one of only two libraries in California (and one of only 30 in the United States) to receive this award.

Moehrle, who has a BA in creating writing, developed her grant-writing skills in a summer 2011 INFO 282 course with lecturer Patty Wong. She was interested in learning about grant writing and wanted to explore funding opportunities for her library’s Teen Writers Club. The class gave Moehrle the opportunity to work through the entire grant development process, from assessing library needs and program development, to researching potential funders, to developing a grant proposal. She also learned how to identify alternative funding sources.

Moehrle enrolled at San José State University School of Information in spring 2009 after working for several years in Los Angeles as a freelance film script analyst. She felt it was important to gain library work experience while earning her degree, so she moved to Ventura to take a job as a Library Technician. “It was a very different change of pace from LA!” she said. Moehrle now works as the Assistant to the City Librarian in Camarillo, where she manages administrative tasks, coordinates with different library departments, communicates with vendors, and contributes to the overall operation and services of the library.

Moehrle’s first successful grant was from the Nippon Foundation, which awarded the Camarillo Public Library with a set of 64 English-language books on Japanese politics, business, culture, and art to promote understanding between cultures. She’s now working on her next grant application, for the NEA’s Big Read.

Moehrle plans to graduate from the iSchool in spring 2012.