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Big Opportunities for Small Libraries: IMLS Launches New Special Initiative

November 29, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

IMLS Press Contact
Elizabeth Holtan
202-653-4630

Big Opportunities for Small Libraries: IMLS Launches New Special Initiative
Seeking Applications for School Library, Community Memory, and Digital Inclusion Grants

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services has launched a new special initiative, Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries (APP), and is accepting grant applications now through February 25, 2019. This new funding opportunity is designed specifically to strengthen the ability of small and rural libraries, archives, and related organizations to serve their communities, and awards sizes range from $10,000 to $50,000.

The initiative is in line with the IMLS Strategic Plan 2018-2022, Transforming Communities, which includes goals of lifelong learning, increasing public access, and building capacity. APP is a special initiative of National Leadership Grants for Libraries, which support projects that enhance the quality of library and archives services nationwide by advancing theory and practice.

“We’re pleased to support the work of small libraries and archives across our nation who are essential to their communities in so many ways,” said IMLS Deputy Director of Library Services Robin Dale. “These grants will provide opportunities for small libraries who provide such important programs and services at a local level to impact new, promising practices on a national scale.”

Categories
Three categories of APP grants are available to applicants:

  • Transforming School Library Practice: School libraries support learning and the development of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills. IMLS is interested in furthering how school library professionals can serve as integral instructional partners to classroom teachers. Grant projects could include programs and services that prepare students for success in college, career, and life, or foster early, digital, information, health, financial, media, civic, and other types of literacies.
     
  • Community Memory: Libraries and archives not only serve as stewards of our nation’s knowledge and collections, but also as trusted spaces for community engagement and dialogue. This project category centers on engaging local communities in the collection, documentation, and preservation of their local histories, experiences, and identities. Proposals could include events and programs to digitize materials related to community histories, such as photographs, artifacts, or texts, or oral history projects that involve community members in the documentation and preservation of local histories.
     
  • Digital Inclusion: Libraries have an important role in promoting digital inclusion and increasing access to information, ideas, and networks. This category focuses on projects that support the role libraries play in promoting digital literacy, providing internet access, and enabling community engagement through civic data and civic technology. Grant proposals could include programs supporting broadband access and wireless networks to address the homework gap, increase small business development and entrepreneurship, or plan for emergency preparedness.

Cohort Learning and Evaluation
Grantees in this initiative will participate in communities of practice based on their project category. Three third-party mentor organizations will lead these cohorts, providing expert guidance and facilitating communication between grantees.

“Using an approach similar to IMLS’s Community Catalyst initiative, these new grants will support small libraries—some who may be applying for their first federal grant—through capacity building and cohort style learning,” said Dale.

This component of the grant is designed to promote shared knowledge, build grantee capacity in relevant areas, and grow networks in the library and archives fields. In addition, IMLS intends to identify and support a third-party organization to evaluate this initiative.

Who is Eligible?
This grant opportunity is designed for small and rural libraries and archives, and applicants should consider how their organization might be a good fit. There are a number of ways to be “small,” and attributes of “small” libraries or archives could include:

  • size of the staff and volunteer corps;
  • operating budget and sources of revenue;
  • size of the collection and range of services provided;
  • size of facility and property;
  • types, numbers, and geographic distribution of audiences served; and size relative to other organizations of the same discipline or within the same geographic region.

Institution types could include rural or urban public libraries, Native American tribal libraries, school districts representing elementary through secondary school libraries, or research or special libraries. For more details, please read the notice of funding opportunity (PDF 384KB).

Webinars
Two pre-application webinars will be held with program staff to answer questions from potential applicants. The webinars, which will each cover the same material, are scheduled for:

Recordings of the webinars will also be made available on the IMLS website. For information about how to participate in the webinars or to access the webinar recordings, see the IMLS webinar page.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Programs: 
Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries