ALA announces $1.25M emergency fund for libraries impacted by COVID-19

For Immediate Release
Thu, 04/08/2021

Stephanie Hlywak
Communications and Marketing Office
American Library Association

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) announced today it will make available $1.25M in emergency relief grants to libraries that have experienced substantial economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ALA COVID Library Relief Fund invites public, school, academic, and tribal libraries across the United States and US Territories to apply for grants of $30,000 to $50,000. These funds are intended to bolster library operations and services including broadening technology access, developing collections, providing digital instruction, staffing, and expanding outreach, as well as maintaining and amplifying existing service strategies or adding new ones to extend impact through the end of 2021. Grant applications are accepted online through May 20, 2021 via the ALA website.

The ALA COVID Library Relief Fund represents some of the most significant grant opportunities available to libraries outside of federal funding. Funds will support libraries’ ability to provide their users with the information services and digital access they need to retain or secure socio-economic mobility during a time of shift and upheaval. Libraries serving low income and rural communities, or communities that are predominately Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, and People of Color, are especially encouraged to apply.

“Libraries have demonstrated extraordinary innovation over the past year in creating new materials, program, and service delivery models, but they are being asked to do more with less. This new grant program recognizes those efforts and seeks to strengthen them, especially in communities where the need is greatest. We are delighted to offer this grant program to bridge the gap between what libraries have and what they and their users need to thrive,” said ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. “This grant is just the first part of a larger ALA effort to support libraries. In the coming months, we will be announcing ambitious plans to raise additional funds to support and sustain the vital work of libraries and library workers as they tackle digital equity, supporting educational persistence, workforce reskilling, and other pressing issues.”

The ALA COVID Library Relief Fund is generously supported by Acton Family Giving as part of its pandemic responsive grantmaking. Initial seed funding was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of its efforts to bolster educational and cultural organizations devastated by the economic fallout from COVID-19.

“Libraries are incredible community assets, especially during difficult times,” said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. “Unfortunately, many libraries have suffered funding cuts that have significantly impaired their ability to provide services and resources at this critical time. We are so grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Acton Family Giving for their tremendous support and for understanding the valuable role libraries play as inclusive institutions for all.”

The application deadline is May 20, 2021, with awards announced at the end of June.  Additional information and award guidelines are available on the grant application site.

ALA’s Chapter Relations Office administers the ALA COVID Library Emergency Relief Fund. Additional information regarding Chapter Relations is available on our website.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.

About Acton Family Giving
Acton Family Giving supports distinct initiatives and collective efforts. Its Empathy Building Initiative, launched in 2014, partners with organizations building connections across difference and reaffirming our common humanity. This work is rooted in the belief that an empathetic society fosters stronger, healthier, and more just communities. Acton Family Giving is part of the Wildcard Giving philanthropic family.

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