CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) today announced that its Libraries Transforming Communities Project will provide more than $7 million in grants to small, rural libraries to increase the accessibility of facilities, services and programs to better serve people with disabilities.
“Libraries Transform Communities: Small, Rural, Accessible Communities represent an important next step in ALA’s commitment to serving small, rural libraries and emphasizing the critical connection between accessibility and our work as spreading the values of equity, diversity and inclusion,” the ALA said. President Patricia “Patty” Wong. “Made possible by a generous grant, this project will also allow ALA to strengthen its staff by providing accessibility training and other professional development around EDI issues. We are also grateful for the opportunity to have ALA’s senior accessibility officer oversee our work on this important core value.
This new phase of the project, funded by a private grant, will mirror ALA’s previous programs under the Libraries Transforming Communities umbrella. Previous phases were supported by the private donor and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), with partners such as the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) .
Beginning in November, ALA will be accepting applications for grants over the next three years ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. Participating libraries will first organize community information gathering sessions to ensure that their work matches local needs. Libraries will need to identify the primary audience they hope to reach (e.g. housebound older adults, children with autism, members of the deaf community) and facilitate community conversation with affected populations to guide improvement library services. Recipients will then use the funds to create services or improve their facilities based on the needs identified by their audience.
“With this grant, ALA solidifies its position as the largest non-governmental funder of library services and library workforce and professional development in the nation, and the second-largest granting agency to libraries outside of IMLS. Further, the focus of this work affirms the association’s goal of advancing the critical issue of accessibility for library users,” said Tracie D. Hall, ALA’s Executive Director. “We see enormous potential with this grant for impact at the local and national level. We’ve seen what happens when libraries make changes – big and small – that positively impact how their communities access and benefit from their services.
Since 2014, ALA has distributed Community Transforming Libraries funding to foster community engagement skills among library workers and support needs-based projects. The Alta Vista, Iowa Public Library used the funds to install an automatic door opener for the library’s front door after hearing from the community that people with reduced mobility had difficulty opening it. The Athena, Oregon Public Library has purchased a reading bike to improve delivery to homebound patrons.
An open call for advisors is now open. Interested candidates will have until May 2, 2022 to submit their resume and a short letter of interest. Applicants must be members of ALA or the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) and will receive a $2,000 stipend.
“The ability to respond to community needs is a critical skill for 21st century library workers,” said Melanie Welch, acting director of ALA’s Office of Public Programs, which will oversee the grant. “We are thrilled that at the end of this process, we will have added 600 grantees to the Libraries Transforming Communities family.”
Additional information about Libraries that Transform Communities: Small, Rural and Accessible Communities, RFP Requirements for Grant Advisors, and the grant application process can be found at https://www.ala.org/ tools/librariestransform/libraries-transforming-communities/access/rfp.
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 Association of Rural and Small Libraries
ARSL builds strong communities through advocacy, professional development and increasing the impact of small rural libraries. As the premier organization representing rural and small libraries, ARSL recognizes the uniqueness of this constituency and is committed to providing an environment that encourages service excellence within our community of practice.