October 21, 2020

IMLS Funds Five Pandemic Response, Professional Development, Digital Inclusion Library Projects
Awards Focus on Innovation, Resources for Underserved Communities in Wake of COVID-19

Two girls sitting at computer stations in a library.
Photo courtesy of the Carson City Library (circa 2018).

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced five FY 2020 out of cycle awards totaling more than $2.4 million that will help these libraries to build diversity and inclusion programs and provide resources for their communities in the wake of the pandemic.

“Libraries are part of a network of trusted institutions for lifelong learning; not only for their community but also for the professionals who work there,” said Cynthia Landrum, Deputy Director of Library Services. “During the pandemic and going forward, there is a sharper focus on the innovative ways libraries are connecting with their communities, especially with some of their underserved and most vulnerable audiences. That focus is also creating opportunities for library, archives, and museum staff to learn how to implement new programs and services so that these institutions can continue to be community hubs for all.”

The University of Arizona and New York University, along with their project partners, received Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian (LB21) awards that will facilitate professional development for Native American and other underrepresented communities in the library, archives, and museum fields.

  • Knowledge River provides financial and academic support for students pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science, focusing on access and services for underrepresented communities, with specific attention to Latinos and Native Americans. The purpose of this project is to recruit, train, and graduate up to 45 students for the purpose of increasing ethnic diversity of professionals working in libraries, archives, and museums, and ensuring equitable access to information for underrepresented communities.

  • The Equity for Indigenous Research and Innovation Coordinating Hub at New York University and collaborating partners will deliver enhanced education and professional training on intellectual property and Indigenous data sovereignty to Native American tribal librarians, archivists, and museum professionals. The training is designed to enhance tribal capacity to address important legal and governance issues in the ongoing management and preservation of Native American collections that reside within community contexts as well as in cultural institutions across the United States.

Two National Leadership Grants for Libraries and an LB21 grant will fund the expansion of digital and health-related programs in response to the pandemic.

  • The Salt Lake City Public Library will develop a Digital Navigators Program to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created a sudden, massive public need for trustworthy digital inclusion services. The Digital Navigators model will adapt traditional digital inclusion programming to this new reality, providing one-to-one dedicated support via phone service. The library will work with three community partners, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and the Urban Library Council to create and test immediate digital solutions for the public.

  • LYRASIS will develop and pilot a turnkey eBook and eAudiobook service with five public and five state libraries based on Library Simplified, an open source eReading software suite. The service will deploy a cloud-based, remotely supported Library Simplified platform for collection management and provide a curated set of eBooks and eAudiobooks through a web catalog and virtual library card that allows immediate patron access via the SimplyE app.

  • Califa Group will prepare public library staff to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing training modules and microlearning videos that enable library staff to identify key partners, programs, and resources available within the COVID-19 support network in their communities. This will help develop an understanding of how long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put vulnerable people, including racial and ethnic minority groups, at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, and assess the critical needs of these groups in order to recover from the pandemic.

For more information about grant opportunities, please visit the IMLS website.

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.

Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program
National Leadership Grants for Libraries