CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) has awarded $2 million in humanities funding to libraries nationwide, as part of a grant program to provide assistance to libraries recovering from the coronavirus pandemic .
With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, libraries will use the funds to anchor themselves as strong humanities institutions and vibrant centers of learning, conversation and connection.
Two hundred libraries will each receive a $10,000 grant as part of the US ALA Bailout: Humanities Grants for Libraries Opportunity.
“Libraries have faced significant challenges throughout the pandemic – from budget cuts to staff furloughs to building closures – especially in our communities that need them most,” said the president of the ALA, Patty Wong. “This crucial support from NEH will enable our beloved institutions and the dedicated people who lead them to rebuild and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.”
The libraries, selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process, include public libraries, university/college libraries, K-12 libraries, and tribal, special, and prison libraries. The recipients represent 45 states and Puerto Rico and serve communities ranging from 642 residents in Weir, Kansas to the city of Los Angeles. Libraries were chosen with an emphasis on reaching historically underserved and/or rural communities.
US bailout opportunity will help libraries create or preserve jobs; support or maintain general operations; creating or supporting humanities programs; and implement new activities in the humanities or maintain existing ones.
“Strong public libraries are at the heart of healthy communities,” said NEH President Shelly C. Lowe. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is grateful to the American Library Association for its exemplary work in helping distribute NEH American Rescue Plan funding to help our nation’s libraries recover from the financial impact of the pandemic and strengthen their role as local centers of humanities learning, research and public programs.
Here are examples of selected libraries:
- When the pandemic hit, the Palmas Academy in Humacao, Puerto Rico, had to fire its only librarian and close its library due to budget constraints. Prior to closing, this school library was the main hub of humanities-centered activities in the community. With funding from the ARP grant, the library will reopen, hire staff, and welcome students and the wider community back.
- The Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix, Arizona, has been hard hit by the pandemic and has not fully reopened since its closure in March 2020. The ARP grant funding will allow this institution, which houses a collection of more than 10,000 volumes and documents archives, bring back their monthly Irish History Book Discussions and provide staff salaries.
- Large groups of migrant workers live in the rural village of Cambria, Wisconsin from April through October. This population relies on Jane Morgan Memorial Library. With ARP funding, the library will provide programming for this and other populations, including bringing in guest speakers for adult humanities programming.
View the full list of featured libraries.
In addition to the $10,000 grant, selected libraries will receive a printed copy of “Going virtual: programs and perspectives in times of crisis »‘ by Sarah Ostman for the ALA Public Programs Office (ALA Editions, 2021), online resources and support.
American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the leading national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the role of the library in improving learning and access to information for all. For more information, visit http://www.ala.org.
About ALA’s Office of Public Programs
ALA’s Office of Public Programs enables libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation, and connection in communities of all types. Learn more at www.ala.org/ppo.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Established in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding proposals selected and peer-reviewed across the country. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.