A Special Grant Opportunity For Small and Rural Libraries

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, a special grant opportunity for small and rural libraries

Date Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020
Deadline for Submission: Wednesday, December 2, 2020 by 11:59 pm (CST)
Award Notification Date: Monday, December 14, 2020
Apply Online via Foundant
Estimated Time to Complete Application: 2 hours


Before starting, read the implementation grant FAQ and carefully review the requirements below in each category for the grant.

Contact the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or publicprograms@ala.org.

Table of Contents

  1. Initiative Description
  2. Eligibility
  3. Award Information
  4. Requirements
  5. Project Design
  6. Eligible Expenses
  7. Application and Submission Information
  8. Application Review
  9. Grant Administration Information
  10. Points of Contact

Initiative Description

Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) that seeks to provide community engagement resources and opportunities specific to the needs of library workers serving small and rural communities.

Libraries today are serving their patrons in new and exciting ways through community engagement. Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with community members – be they library patrons, residents, faculty, students or partner organizations – to address issues for the betterment of the community. As champions of lifelong learning, libraries are a place to quench curiosity, access technology, and explore new ideas, hobbies and careers. Increasingly, libraries also offer patrons welcoming virtual and physical spaces to meet their neighbors to discuss and resolve important issues.

As part of this initiative, ALA will provide implementation grants to libraries serving small and/or rural communities to develop and lead a community engagement project that builds on the Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries e-course and facilitation guide.

The goal of these grants are two-fold: a. this project is for library workers to use the skills learned through the LTC: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries asynchronous 6-part e-course and facilitation guide to develop a community engagement program, and b. to provide flexible funding to support library community engagement.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is part of ALA’s longtime commitment to preparing library workers for the expanding role of libraries. The initiative is offered in partnership with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL). It is supported by a private donor and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


  • Applicants must have a membership with either the American Library Association OR the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.
  • This opportunity is open to all types of libraries serving small and/or rural communities in the U.S. and U.S. territories.
    • The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines libraries serving small communities as those with a legal service area population of 25,000 or less and a rural community as one that is more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area.
  • Only complete and eligible applications that are received on time will be reviewed.

Award Information

Libraries serving small and/or rural communities will be selected to receive an LTC community engagement implementation grant over the course of two application periods. In the first application period (September – December 2020) at least 200 libraries will be selected. The second application period (January – March 2021) will provide grants to at least 450 libraries serving small and/or rural communities. 

Library staff will apply the skills learned from the LTC: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries e-course and facilitation guide to address community need through library service. Libraries selected for funding will receive:

  • $3,000 to support costs related to their community engagement project
  • Professional development consisting of the LTC: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries asynchronous e-course and facilitation guide (required for all project directors)
  • A suite of online resources developed to support local programs including template press releases, social media messaging, logos, digital promotional materials and template letters that can be used to notify local leaders/officials about the library’s project.
  • Technical and project support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the grant term, such as access to:
    • Online learning opportunities for grantees intended to assist project directors in promoting their conversation, completing grant reporting requirements and participating in evaluation
    • Community of practice for project directors and staff


All libraries awarded the LTC grant will be required to:

  • Designate one staff member as the project director (local coordinator). This person will commit to completing the LTC: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries e-course before implementing the proposed community conversation and other activities.
  • Share information about the library’s project, as appropriate, with area elected officials and community leaders.
  • Complete the six-part asynchronous LTC: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries ecourse.
  • Host a minimum of one conversation with community members using skills learned from the ecourse. Community conversations must take place between February 1, 2021, and July 31, 2021.
    • Eligible conversations may include any topic or issue that is relevant to the community.
    • Examples might include (but are not limited to), discussions about e-learning, local issues, COVID-19, films, books, etc.
    • Conversations may be virtual or in-person and should be facilitated (or co-facilitated) by the library worker who has completed the e-course.
  • Report and share information about the content/outcomes of the conversation or series of conversations in at least one of the following ways:
    • Use PLA’s Project Outcome Civic/Community Engagement or ACRL’s Project Outcome Events & Programs areas to collect and share feedback about the conversation with library leadership and trustees
    • Write an article and submit it to a local newspaper or other media outlet or post it to the library’s social media
    • Create a video and post it to the library’s YouTube, Facebook, or other social media account
    • Write and send a letter or email to a state legislator or other elected official about the conversation
    • Create a library blog or podcast about issues discussed during the conversation or the process itself.
  • Participate in the project evaluation and reporting by responding to requests from the independent project evaluators and completing any requested reports. This may include responding to surveys, participating in phone interviews, and/or hosting a site visit.
  • Spend the grant funds by February 28, 2022.
  • Submit a final report to ALA by September 30, 2021.

Project Design

Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with community members — be they library patrons, residents, faculty, students or partner organizations— to address issues for the betterment of the community. This opportunity strengthens the role of libraries serving small and rural communities by providing professional development that supports facilitation of conversations with community members and stakeholders during this time of great need and widespread crisis. ALA recognizes that this is complicated and enduring work and is supporting this work with $3,000 in funding to help libraries serve their communities.

Libraries should design a conversation or conversation series that best suits the audience and topic(s) of their planned conversation(s). Grant applicants are welcome to submit proposals that utilize existing conversation models, such as:

Conversation(s) may be focused on a subject or issue of importance to the community the library serves. Some examples of conversations may include:

  • Local/regional issues/legislation (e.g. installation of wind turbines, school closures, land use).
    • Example: A rural school district faces declining enrollment, and the school board is considering a cost-saving measure that would eliminate busing for some students. The library hosts a community conversation to discuss how the measure would effect residents and the school district. The library uses funding to purchase PPE in order to have a social distanced conversation outside, pay for childcare during the conversation, and create fliers to market the event. After the conversation, the librarian summarizes the key discussion points in a video on the library’s Facebook page and encourages further discussion in the comments.
  • National issues (e.g. unemployment, climate change, public health)
    • Example: In response to COVID-19, a library partners with its county health department to host a virtual conversation about the pandemic and discuss community concerns. The library uses funding to advertise the conversation; purchase Wi-Fi hotspots and tablets to lend out to help community members participate in the virtual discussion; and get additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ebooks about public health to continue to address community need and interest. After the conversation, the librarian writes a column for the newspaper about community concerns in relation to the pandemic and shares related resources that the library or county health department has gathered.
  • Book/film discussion (e.g. using a book or film as a way to discuss larger issues concerning the community)
    • Example: A library hosts a community-wide read of “Heartland: a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth” by Sarah Smarsh to launch a discussion about America’s perception of the working poor and the ongoing debate about increasing minimum wage. The library uses funding to purchase copies of the book, create marketing/promotional materials for the community-wide read, buy a Zoom license for the book discussion, and pay for staff time. After the conversation, the library uses Project Outcome to gather participant’s thoughts on the initiative and uses the platform’s report generator to share results with library trustees and board members. Based on interest the library uses grant funds to purchase additional ebook licenses and hotspots for future book discussions.

Eligible Expenses

LTC grant funds are restricted to project related expenses. Eligible expenses may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment and supplies
  • Purchase of collection materials
  • Tech equipment (e.g. virtual meeting licenses, iPads, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.)
  • Project supplies (e.g. markers, index cards, post-its, etc)
  • Library staff time
  • Additional facilitation training for library staff (e.g. equity, diversity and inclusion facilitation skills training)
  • Payment to project partners for reimbursement or direct funding of services and support provided (e.g. childcare providers, translators, instructors, co-facilitator, etc.)
  • Promotion and publicity

Grant funds may not be used to support indirect costs (e.g. general library administrative expenses).

Application and Submission Information

ALA will accept applications for the LTC: Focus on for Small and Rural Libraries implementation grant beginning September 21, 2020 and ending on December 2, 2020 at 11:59 pm (CST).

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before applying.

Getting Started

To submit a proposal, go to the online application form and complete the following steps.

To apply for the LTC: Focus on for Small and Rural Libraries implementation grant, you must complete the following steps:


1. Enter Project Name

Note: To qualify for this grant, the applying institution must be a library serving a small and/or rural community.

To begin your application, enter LTC into the “Project Name” field.

2. Complete Project Director Information

To complete this section, provide all the information that is requested about the Project Director.

Note: The project director is the person who will be responsible for coordinating the entire proposed project. They will be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant institution.

3. Complete Library Information

To complete this section, provide all the information about the applying library including type, total population served and community type. Also indicate which association(s) you or the library is a member of.

4. Write Implementation Grant Narrative

Each narrative response should be 600 words or less. Before you compose the narrative part of this application, we strongly recommend that you read these guidelines and the “Leading Conversations in Small and Rural Libraries” Facilitation Guide carefully. If you do not, your application is unlikely to be competitive.

  • Community and Library Information. Describe your library and the community it serves, including demographics, dynamics and key issues or challenges it faces. What should reviewers know about your library and community in order to understand your proposed community engagement project?
  • Conversation Topic or Issue. Describe the topic or issue that your community engagement project will focus on. Why is it important for your library or community to discuss this particular issue/topic? How did you arrive at this particular topic/subject (e.g. did you talk with library patrons, reach out to other area organizations? Dig into data about your community)? How will your library and/or community benefit from having this/these discussion(s)?
  • Project Goals. Describe the library’s goal or the purpose of your project plan. What are you aiming to accomplish? (e.g. enhance library resources based on community input; explore a topic and/or build understanding of others’ experiences; generate ideas, explore options, and make a decision; discuss an issue and collaboratively determine next steps, etc.)
  • Conversation Planning. How do you envision your conversation taking place? (e.g. virtual book club discussion, socially-distanced conversation outdoors at the library using the National Issues Forum Model, etc.) Do you feel you are able to describe how you envision your conversation(s) will take place? Or are you new to this and planning to learn these skills though the online course? What kind of marketing/outreach do you plan to do for the conversation? How are you planning to share the content/outcomes of the conversation? (e.g. writing an article for the local newspaper, creating a video about what was discussed for the library’s social media, etc.)
  • Budget. Describe your plans for the grant funds. What will you use the funding to purchase or support? Please be specific (e.g. $1,000 will be spent on staff time to support the development and implementation of the project, $200 will be used to purchase a Zoom Business license in order for us to virtually host our conversation). The total amount of your proposed budget plan should add up to $3,000. Note: If you are unable to spend the entire grant down by July 31, 2021, you may accrue funds to spend through February 28, 2022. If you anticipate needing to accrue funds, please note this in your response and include your plans for spending it down.

5. Upload Supporting Materials

6.A – Upload Letters of Support – OPTIONAL

Upload letters of support from any other organizations or individuals that are in favor of your community engagement project. This may include letters of support from the library’s friends’ group, library board members, civic leaders, community partners, etc.

6.B – Upload Additional Materials – OPTIONAL

Upload any additional materials that support your proposed community engagement project. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Sample promotional materials
  • Draft conversation agendas
  • Draft discussion questions
  • Videos

6. Sign Application

An application for an LTC: Focus on for Small and Rural Libraries implementation grant is an application for a grant from ALA, using funding provided by an award from a private donor. ALA is required by law to ask applicants to identify a certifying official who is authorized to submit applications for funding on behalf of the institution.

To complete this section, you must enter all the information that is requested.

7. Review and Edit Your Application

8. Submit Your Application

Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it by selecting the Submit button. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm CST on December 2, 2020. Applications submitted after that time will be ineligible.

Note that once you have submitted your application, you can no longer alter it. The application will then be submitted for review. You will receive an email confirming submission of your application.

Application Review

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Clarity and completeness of the application. Has the application supplied all required information, including all sections of the statement of intent and supporting materials?
  • Size and type of community the applicant’s library serves.

Applicants are encouraged to address questions about the selection guidelines, process, and requirements to the ALA Public Programs Office at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or publicprograms@ala.org.

Review and Selection Process

Each application will be assessed by a panel of library workers serving small and rural communities and project staff of ALA. ALA will make the final decisions based on peer reviewer feedback, and other possible considerations such as geographic distribution.

Grant Administration Information

First application period deadline: December 2, 2020, by 11:59 pm (CST)
First application period award notification: December 14, 2020
First application period cash grant distributed by: January 29, 2021
Second application period: January 4 – March 4, 2021

Points of Contact

If you have questions, contact:

Public Programs Office
American Library Association
1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045

The Minnesota Speed Test Initiative needs your help

A graphic showing an internet speed dial. The text says, "The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition is conducting a statewide crowd-sourced internet speed testing initiative. Take the test in one minute or less! www.mnruralbroadbandcoalition.com/speedtest"
Broadband access is important now more than ever.  Most students in Minnesota will be distance learning in some form this fall. We know that thousands across the state don’t have access to broadband internet in their homes.

The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition is conducting a statewide crowd-sourced internet speed testing initiative. The goal of this project is to create an accurate statewide map of where internet service is available and what speeds people are currently receiving.

The test takes less than 30 seconds to complete, can be taken on any internet-connected device and instructions are available in English and Spanish. http://www.mnruralbroadbandcoalition.com/speedtest

Materials including social media templates are available to encourage your students, patrons, and communities to take part. http://mnruralbroadbandcoalition.com/minnesota-broadband-speedtest/speed-test-communication-materials

40 Virtual Program Ideas for Banned Books Week

By: Ellie Diaz

Text reads: Celebrate Banned Books Week virtually. September 27 - October 3. Office for Intellectual Freedom. To the left of the text is an open book. To the right of the text is a shadow of a young person standing with hands on their hips.

Banned Books Week is traditionally a time when libraries, schools, and bookstores host in-person events that raise awareness about censorship. This Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 3) will look different.

With many libraries practicing social distancing, and recent protests and acknowledgements of systemic racism, this is not the time to conduct a business-as-usual Banned Books Week. This Banned Books Week can be a time to highlight activism, embrace creativity, explore technology, and recognize voices that have attempted to be silenced. 

Poster, Field Report, and two bookmarks with this year's Banned Books Week theme "Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read." The theme includes a maze, open book, and a shadow of a figure with hands on their hips.

Below are ways to celebrate Banned Books Week while maintaining social distance, attributed to libraries and schools that do incredible programming. Check out our Pinterest page for even more ideas, and share your own ideas with the Celebrating Banned Books Week Facebook group.

Posters, high resolution logos, digital handouts, and bookmarks are available on the ALA Store

Virtual Programs

1. Create a virtual escape room that highlights this year’s Banned Books Week theme “Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read.” 

Clues are situated in a circle formation, including photographs, a clock, a letter, a lock, files, and a camera.

2. Host a virtual trivia night that tests participants’ knowledge about literary censorship. 

  • Resource: Request a free kit with questions and answers from the Banned Books Week Coalition. 

3. Books that address police brutality and racism continue to be challenged, and some people have requested that Black Lives Matter displays in libraries be dismantled. Partner with an organization that raises and centers on the voices of Black people, inviting speakers to virtually discuss historic and current racism, and/or the importance of sharing these experiences within stories. 

4. Invite a banned author to do a storytime or Q&A about how it feels to be censored.

  • InspirationVirtual Author Chat from the Scotland County (N.C.) Memorial Library.
  • ResourceBanned book lists from the American Library Association is a great place to find names of banned and challenged authors. 

5. Stream a movie adaptation of a banned book or a virtual watch party of films based on banned books and host a conversation afterward. 

Cover of The Sledding Hill play adaptation, showing the shadow of a child running

6. Host a virtual read-through of the play The Sledding Hill  — based on the book by Chris Crutcher and adapted for the stage by playwright Jarrett Dapier — and assign attendees different characters. The theatrical adaptation features a cast of passionate teen characters and debates about the value of intellectual freedom and the rights of youth to read what they choose. 

  • Resource: The script is available for free from the American Library Association. 

7. Partner with a local LGBTQIA+ group to host a virtual program that addresses this statistic: “8 of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019 were challenged because of LGBTQIA+ content.” Why are LGBTQIA+ books censored? What does that say about society? What can we do to stop this?

8. Connect with a local group that assists with sending books to people who are incarcerated to see if there is interest in hosting a discussion about censorship in prisons and/or promoting their list of needed books.

9. Host an online bingo based on banned book titles or your library/organization’s activities for Banned Books Week.

10. Host a virtual banned book-themed storytime every day of Banned Books Week, with the reader dressed as banned book characters. 

11. Host a story writing contest that asks participants to imagine a world where all books were banned.

Hands illustrating a portrait

12. Invite an illustrator to demonstrate a drawing tutorial, and end the program with a discussion on graphic novels and comics that are banned because of their artwork or covers. 

13. Host a stay-at-home read-a-thon party/ball and encourage readers to take one night during Banned Books Week to open a banned book and post their thoughts in a shared space or using a unique hashtag.

14. Create an online scavenger hunt about banned poetry or banned literature.

15. Host a virtual art show featuring reimagined covers of banned books or banned book trading cards.

Open book with a hand holding a megaphone coming out of it.

16. Encourage readers to film themselves reading from their favorite banned or challenged book and submit the video to the American Library Association to be featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube Channel. 

17. While the right to read is guaranteed by the First Amendment, so is the right to protest. Host a program about different forms of activism, bringing current Black Lives Matters protests to the forefront. The program could also touch on how readers can advocate for or express their First Amendment rights, including the right to read. 

Open laptop shows 20 people's faces on a Zoom meeting. Beside the laptop is a mug.

18. Host a virtual open mic night where participants can read excerpts from their favorite banned and challenged books while enjoying coffee and tea. 

19. Hundreds of scholars around the world face threats for critical thinking and daring to share their ideas. Invite a scholar to discuss threats to academic freedom and attacks on scholars.

Cover of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, showing a scarecrow with open arms

20. The freedom to read is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Plan a virtual program on civic engagement or the First Amendment. 

21. Censorship is scary! Draw attention to books that were challenged because they were too scary such as the Goosebumps series and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by hosting a haunted banned BOOk virtual reading or streaming the documentary that discusses the censorship of the Scary Stories series.

22. If you haven’t already selected a book club pick for September or October, consider selecting a banned or challenged book. 

Social Distanced Programs

23. Host at-home contests by putting together baggies of supplies with materials and instructions as grab-and-go kits. Encourage participants to send in photos of their creation or post them on Twitter with a specific hashtag. 

Footsteps drawn in with sidewalk chalk

24. Create a sidewalk obstacle course around the theme “Censorship is a Dead End. Find Your Freedom to Read.” Can participants balance on banned book spines and leap over the lagoon of censored words to unlock the ultimate place to explore new perspectives (their local library)? 



25. Create at-home storytime kits of banned children’s books.

26. Create an iSpy display with banned book covers or “artifacts” from banned books.

27. Create banned book-themed craft kits that users can check-out, or host a virtual craft program that focuses on a banned book design or message.

Homemade wands laying in front of a 
happy birthday cake with a lightning bolt, snitch, owl, and wizard hat decorations atop the cake.
DIY Harry Potter Wands,” jbrary.com

28. Harry Potter was a frequently challenged book. Host a make-and-take craft or tasty treat based on the banned series. 

29. Partner with local restaurants to offer a banned book spin on menu items. Those who order the menu items could receive a banned book button or bookmark. 

30. Create Banned Books Mad Libs from banned book pages.

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019 crossword puzzle

31. Create and promote “banned book bundles” of frequently banned and challenged titles that users can check out and pick up. 

32. Create your own crossword based on banned/challenged titles in your collection, or use crosswords created by the American Library Association or ACLU. 

33. Create grab-and-go Dear Banned Author kits, that include postcards, a list of banned author mailing addresses, and pens.

Social Media Programs/Activities 

34. Participate in the Dear Banned Author initiative by encouraging readers to tweet to their favorite banned authors using #BannedBooksWeek and #DearBannedAuthor. 

Hand holding three postcards in front of a bookshelf

35. Shred printed-out pages of a banned title and put them in a jar, or print out a page from a banned book and use a marker to black-out words. Post a picture and offer a prize to the first follower to guess the correct banned title.

36. Create an online voting bracket where users can vote on their favorite banned book character or title each day.

37. Create “Houses” of banned characters and ask followers to choose which group they would like to be a part of or quarantined with. 

38. Post emojis that share the plot of a banned book and ask followers to guess the title.

Book cover of "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo." Text reads: #3 most challenged book of 2019 for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoint. ala.org/bbooks American Library Association.

39. Host a Twitter Chat discussion with followers about what books are targeted with censorship, why that is, and who gets to decide what we read. 

40. Spotlight banned books by sharing cover art and the link to the title in your digital collection on social media, especially highlighting books that were challenged because they confront subjects such as race, abilities, gender, and gender identity.

Ellie Diaz

Ellie Diaz is the Program Officer at the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. With her journalism background and fierce devotion to the freedom to read, Ellie organizes ALA’s Banned Books Week and several other projects within OIF.

Apply Now: Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change

ALA invites library workers to apply to be part of Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change, a pilot program to help public and academic libraries engage their communities in programs and conversations that address the climate change crisis.

The project will fund in-person and virtual film screenings, community dialogues and related events based on local interest in 25 public and academic libraries, and it will provide instruction and support for the libraries to be centers for community education and support during extreme weather events.

Logo for Resilient Communities

ALA is seeking public and academic libraries to take part in the Resilient Communities pilot program. Apply by August 28, 2020.

Learn more about Resilient Communities and apply online. Applications will be accepted from July 1 to September 10, 2020. Participating libraries will be selected through a peer-reviewed, competitive application process managed by ALA’s Public Programs Office.

Selected libraries will receive:

Participating libraries will collaborate with a community partner organization to host three public programs in 2020-2021 that focus on climate change science, sustainability, emergency weather preparedness, environmental justice or related subjects.

Given safety and restrictions around in-person programming due to COVID-19, ALA encourages applicants to consider virtual programs or other formats that prioritize the health and safety of library staff and patrons. Read the project guidelines for details and resources for planning virtual programs.

Project advising for Resilient Communities is provided by representatives of ALA’s Sustainability Round Table, a professional forum for ALA members to exchange ideas and opportunities regarding sustainability in order to move toward a more equitable, healthy and economically viable society. If you wish to discuss a potential application one-on-one with a Resilient Communities advisor, please email publicprograms@ala.org to make arrangements. (Project advisors will not serve on the application review committee.)

A free programming guide about in-person and virtual climate change programming will be available on ALA’s Programming Librarian website for all libraries in fall 2020. Sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter to be notified when the guide is available.

Through Resilient Communities, ALA strives to:

  • Raise awareness and provide accurate information about the climate change crisis to the public through libraries
  • Designate libraries as CREW-certified Climate Resilience Hubs, positioning them to provide ongoing public education and community support during extreme weather events
  • Engage library staff in local partnerships and environmental justice efforts that emphasize bottom-up organizing, shared community leadership, and the centering of those most impacted by climate change, particularly communities of color and underserved communities
  • Create space in libraries for communities to engage in conversation, mobilize for the initiation of sustainability policies and practices, and foster more resilient communities
  • Identify and document relevant, replicable programming models for future national distribution

The pilot project has been funded by a generous grant from Andrew and Carol Phelps, the parents of two library master’s students.

“We feel a moral obligation to take action, and we believe libraries and librarians are ideal partners to accomplish the work ahead. We wholeheartedly support libraries as centers for lifelong learning and innovation, which is needed now more than ever,” said Carol Phelps. “We are eager to get factual information about the climate crisis out to the public before it becomes too late, and to help create space in libraries for communities to mobilize for change.”

Launching 18 months after ALA adopted sustainability as a core value of librarianship, this project seeks to advance practices and policies that are environmentally sound, economically just and socially equitable.

“This is a pivotal time for libraries and the communities we serve,” then-ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo said after the ALA Council voted to adopt sustainability as a core value in January 2019. “Libraries are helping to better the education and the lifelong learning of the communities they serve. By adding sustainability to its core values, ALA is recognizing that libraries of all types can act as catalysts and inspire future generations to reach solutions that are not only sensible but essential to sustaining life on this planet.”

Gearing Up for Difficult Conversations

Gearing Up for Difficult Conversations

Are you planning programming around the newest One Book | One Minnesota title, A Good Time for the Truth?

State Library Services is offering training to learn tips and gain confidence on how to handle difficult conversations around racial equity. The training is led by Katona Barnes, human resources consultant and affirmative action officer at the Minnesota Department of Education.

When: Wednesday, July 15, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Where: Microsoft Teams meeting – Join Difficult Conversations training

This is great for library staff preparing to host a community or staff book discussion for A Good Time for the Truth or other titles about racial equity in the future. This is an encore of the presentation on June 25. These conversations are not recorded, but slides are available. Please contact Ashley Bieber if you have questions.

Call to Action for Public Library Workers to Address Racism

Call to Action for Public Library Workers to Address Racism

PLA Statement Condemning Systemic Racism and Violence Against BIPOC People

The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), calls on public library workers to commit to structural change and to taking action to end systemic racism and injustice. PLA thanks members of its Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice for their guidance and leadership in development of this statement and call to action. The statement recognizes and supports ALA’s statement condemning violence against BIPOC, protesters and journalists, and ALA’s statement acknowledging ALA’s role in perpetuating structural racism. PLA applauds the creation of a working group to create recommendations on restorative justice practices and the use/presence of police in libraries (ALA CD #45).

The Public Library Association shares the nation’s anger, sadness, and frustration over the epidemic of violent acts perpetrated against Black people. We demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others, and for their families and communities. We stand in solidarity with Black people engaging in collective action against systemic racism, oppression, and injustice. Across the country, the pattern of police violence in response to protests — coupled with a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color — further reveals our country’s disgraceful legacy of state-sanctioned violence against Black people. We join the chorus of voices demanding an end to this violence and insisting that Black Lives Matter.

Because we believe that #LibrariesTransform, we also commit to honest reflection and structural change. We acknowledge that public libraries have been — and still are — complicit in systems that oppress, exclude, and harm Black people, indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC). The library profession remains overwhelmingly white, despite decades of emphasis on diversity and inclusion. We see incredible examples of self-determination and resilience by BIPOC librarians and educators, yet the profession has largely failed to improve conditions and ensure pathways for advancement among library workers of color. We commit to dismantling white supremacy in libraries and librarianship. We recognize the urgency of this collective work, and commit to hold ourselves, our colleagues, and our institutions accountable when we fall short.

Call to Action for Public Library Workers

We call on public library workers to join us in taking the following action steps:


  • Study, amplify, and align with the policy demands of the Movement for Black Lives. Ask yourself: What can the movement’s call to divest from punishment and policing — while investing in long-term safety strategies such as schools, libraries, employment, health, and housing — mean for your library and your community?
  • Change library policies that punish and criminalize patron behavior. Invest in alternatives to policing and security guards within library spaces. See, It’s not enough to say Black Lives Matter.
  • Evaluate the messages about police and policing libraries promote to children and families in programs and collections. See, Policing Doesn’t Protect Us, and Evaluating Children’s Books about Police.
  • Create a Plan of Action for addressing racism and working toward collective liberation. Start where you are, engage others, and make a long-term commitment to listening, action, and reflection.
  • Address structural racism. Work with BIPOC communities to identify and implement structural changes that must occur within libraries. Build staff investment at every level, while shifting resources to support racial equity initiatives in libraries and staff-led action teams. Evaluate policies and procedures using racial equity tools and develop racial equity action plans to sustain this work.
  • Develop and fund programs, services, and collections that center the voices and experiences of people of color and shift power to communities for co-curation and co-creation.
  • Materially support organizations that provide resources and build community for BIPOC working in libraries, including We Here, the Spectrum Scholarship ProgramBCALA, and JCLC.


PLA and the PLA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice commit to do the following:


  • Convene meaningful conversations about EDISJ in public libraries. In the next few months, we will be hosting a series of Twitter chats. The next chat will be on Creating Inclusive Communities on August 5 at 12:00 p.m. Central.
  • Identify the action step(s) above that we are collectively best positioned to address during our next year of work and develop concrete recommendations for PLA to advance racial equity and organizational change in libraries;
  • Evaluate the structure of the Task Force with the aim of creating a more diverse and representative entity with the capacity to move this transformative work forward; and
  • Embrace discomfort as we navigate challenging and emotional subjects. To uproot racism and white supremacy within ourselves and our institutions will require immense courage, compassion, and the honest desire for accountability.

SELCO Releases Anti Racism Statement

The SELCO board recently approved the following anti racism statement:

“SELCO commits itself to not only ensuring that its policies and practices are anti racist, but also to promoting equity and diversity within the organization. In addition to our role of helping libraries provide services, we also pledge to educate, foster dialogue, and provide resources so that our member libraries have the tools to address any inequities that they may see in their communities.”

As we continue to listen, learn, and grow, this statement will guide SELCO’s policies and procedures. You can find the statement at any time on the policies page of our website. 

ALA Condemns Police Violence

In a June 11 statement, the American Library Association condemned police violence against people of color, protesters, and journalists. The full statement reads as follows:

The American Library Association is deeply saddened by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, as well as the killings by police or vigilantes of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. We are in solidarity with the statements of BCALA [the Black Council of the American Library Association] and APALA [the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association], and affirm our earlier statement [on June 1] condemning violence and racism toward black people, indigenous people, and all people of color.

We recognize “that institutionalized inequities based on race are embedded into our society and are reinforced through social institutions,” and we condemn the systemic racism and violence that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experience on a daily basis in our inequitable society.

We also condemn the violence that protesters and journalists across the country are facing while exercising their First Amendment rights. The former raise their voices to demand justice; the latter seek to document and share history as it is being made. Both have been subject to gratuitous attacks from police. The First Amendment promises freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government, all of which are essential freedoms of our democracy and vital components of intellectual freedom.

ALA has long sought to safeguard the rights of library users, libraries, and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and ALA has pledged to “[s]upport antiracism work within the broader society by monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for human rights and equity legislation, regulations, policy, and practice.” Furthermore, as stated in “The Universal Right to Free Expression: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, ALA “opposes any use of governmental prerogative that leads to intimidation of individuals that prevents them from exercising their rights to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas. We urge libraries and librarians everywhere to resist such abuse of governmental power, and to support those against whom such governmental power has been employed.”

As such, ALA calls upon its members to support initiatives to end police violence against Black people, to combat the systemic racism that infects our society, and to speak out against all attempts to restrict First Amendment rights. ALA further calls upon federal, state, and local governments to uphold, preserve, and respect the constitutional rights of protesters, of journalists, and of all people who want to make their voices heard and to share their words and ideas with the rest of the world and future generations.

Approved by the ALA Executive Board June 9, 2020

Original Statement drafted and approved by ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee

Endorsed by the Social Responsibilities Round Table

Niche Academy now offering free COVID resources

The training platform Niche Academy is now offering free online training and resources on a variety of COVID-related topics. Whether it’s myths and facts about the virus itself, or information regarding the ripple effect the virus has created, there are plenty of resources to choose from on the Niche Academy COVID page.

Some of the classes you can expect to find on the page include the spread, symptoms, and prevention of COVID. However, there are also a number of classes that address mental health, job searching, and other issues that have arisen as a result of the COVID pandemic. 

Niche Academy will be curating this collection of training and resources, so check back frequently for new courses!

OverDrive to donate ebooks and audiobooks for simultaneous use library lending

In response to the unprecedented demand for digital books for your readers, OverDrive paid participating publishers and authors for rights to a growing collection of ebooks and audiobooks that will be provided for unlimited simultaneous use, at no cost for your library. Created to help your library deliver more titles to more readers, OverDrive’s COVID Response Collections will supplement your catalog with titles that can be used for student summer reading programs, digital book clubs, community reading events, and general inventory support.
Libraries are working to meet urgent demand for Juvenile and Young Adult content to serve remote learning during shutdowns. The first set of titles donated by OverDrive will be a Kids & Teens bundle including over 200 ebooks, audiobooks, and Read-Alongs from Rosen Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group, Britannica Digital Learning, Triangle Interactive, and other participating publishers.
OverDrive is also acquiring rights from leading publishers for Adult Fiction and Nonfiction collections to support your library. We will update you as new collections are confirmed.
The Kids & Teens bundle of donated titles will be added to your OverDrive collection during the last week of June 2020. All ebooks and audiobooks will be available in simultaneous use, at no cost to your library, through August 31, 2021. When new titles are added to this program, we will automatically add them to your collection. As with all OverDrive-supplied content in your collection, you will be able to curate these donated titles in any way you’d like.
We will follow-up when the first titles in the OverDrive COVID Response Collections are live. Until then, please feel free to reach out to your Account Manager with any questions, or if you wish to opt out of receiving this donation.