Apply Now: Round 3 of Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries

The American Library Association (ALA) invites library workers to apply for round 3 of the Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant.

Up to 100 libraries will be awarded in this round of grantmaking, part of ALA’s longtime community engagement initiative. Applications are due Thursday, September 16.

Participating libraries will receive training in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to 21st-century librarianship. Library workers will complete a free ALA e-course on basic facilitation skills; host at least one conversation with community members on a chosen topic; and receive $3,000 to support community engagement efforts. Grant funds may cover a range of expenses, including staff time and collections and technology purchases.

Libraries that previously were awarded LTC: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grants are eligible to apply for additional funding to expand their previously awarded projects.

Over 500 public, academic, school and tribal libraries representing 48 U.S. states have been awarded in the past year, including 13 Nebraska libraries. View the full list.

Some Nebraska examples:

  • Neligh Public Library is hosting a series of programs and book discussions called ‘Perspectives on Race: Attempting to Understand the History and Reality of Being a Person of Color in the United States’.
  • St. Edward Public Library is holding a Heritage Fair in celebration of the many ethnic backgrounds that make up their community.
  • Ravenna Public Library hosted a conversation about food insecurity in their community and started a community garden.
  • Valentine Public Library’s project, ‘Online Snare-Cyber Smart’, is a collaborative effort with the Valentine Police Department, Cherry Co Sheriffs Department, and the Valentine Public Library to increase awareness and the sharing of information regarding Cyber Security and Awareness to decrease victimization.

A sampling of projects that libraries across the country will undertake in 2021:

  • Jaffrey (New Hampshire) Public Library hosted a discussion following a virtual panel about gender identity that helped dispel myths and overcome differences.
  • Sitka (Alaska) Public Library will draw from rural Alaska’s powerful history of past epidemics — including tuberculosis and smallpox outbreaks that heavily impacted Native Alaskans — to have conversations about the COVID-19 pandemic, offer historical context, and build upon oral histories previously collected by the library.
  • Pottsboro (Texas) Area Library led talks about emergency preparedness after a winter storm left their community without electricity and water for days.
  • Working with local teens, Anne West Lindsey District Library (Carterville, Illinois) facilitated a conversation with local leaders that helped the community keep at-risk young people fed.

In September 2020, ALA announced plans to award nearly $2 million to small and rural libraries in 2020 and 2021 to help them address issues of concern in their communities. Up to 650 U.S. libraries in small and rural communities will receive $3,000 to tackle issues ranging from media literacy to COVID-19 safety to unemployment. The initiative is part of ALA’s longtime commitment to preparing library workers for the expanding role of libraries.

The opportunity is open to libraries serving small and/or rural communities in the U.S. and U.S. territories. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines small communities as those with a legal service area population of 25,000 or less and rural communities as those more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area.

Since 2014, ALA’s community engagement initiative, Libraries Transforming Communities, has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is offered in partnership with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL).

Questions? Contact ALA’s Public Programs Office at publicprograms@ala.org.

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