ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services and ProLiteracy receive IMLS grant to expand adult literacy services through libraries

For Immediate Release
Wed, 06/24/2015


Kristin Lahurd

Literacy Officer

Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services

CHICAGO – ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, in partnership with ProLiteracy, has received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop online training and supporting resources to better equip librarians and library staff to serve adult learners. The grant award is $106,669.

ALA President Courtney Young recognized IMLS’s investment: “We are thrilled that IMLS is helping us to build libraries’ capacity to expand services for adult learners through this important project.  We look forward to partnering with ProLiteracy on the development of new free training resources for library staff and volunteers interested in implementing the Adult Literacy Action Agenda.”

According to the Program for the International Assessment for Adult Competencies (PIAAC), one in six American adults struggle on a daily basis to perform basic tasks such as completing a job application, understanding a medication label or reading a simple story to their children. To equitably serve adults with low literacy skills, public libraries provide a range of services, including high interest/low reading level collections, resources for test taking and educational advancement, access to technology and private spaces for one-on-one tutoring and small group instruction. Adults are visiting libraries in growing numbers to use public computers, access print and digital resources, search and apply for jobs and improve their educations. Librarians are being asked to stretch their resources, and they are responding with diligence, determination and remarkable creativity.

The grant will put into practice priorities outlined in Adult Literacy through Libraries: an Action Agenda, a previous project of ProLiteracy, ALA, and Onondaga County Public Library. The new project’s goal is to increase and expand adult literacy services in public libraries across the nation. Entitled “Adult Literacy: Libraries in Action (ALL In Action),” the project will operate through March 31, 2017.

Kevin Morgan, president and CEO of ProLiteracy said, “ProLiteracy is a nonprofit organization that believes that every adult has a right to literacy. Over 36 million American adults are in dire need of literacy services and resources — and libraries help fulfill that need. Libraries provide a window into digital literacy, which in turn allows people to gain the skills they need to navigate an increasingly tech-driven society and workforce. . . . Our plan is to give adult literacy and basic education programs, including the ones embedded in our nation’s libraries, the attention and investment they rightly deserve. The reward will be a nation of skilled, literate, and globally competitive adults.”

An Advisory Group of these leaders in the field of adult literacy will join ALA’s and ProLiteracy’s efforts:

Al Bennett: literacy consultant

Amy Thorna: literacy coordinator, Onondaga County Public Library

David J. Rosen: president, Newsome Associates

Eric Nesheim: executive director, Minnesota Literacy Council

Kevin Dean: executive director, Literacy Mid-South

Leslie Gelders: literacy coordinator, Oklahoma Dept of Libraries Literacy Resource Center

Sandy Newell: library administration consultant, Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services, Bureau of Library Development

Hadi S. Dudley: library director, Bentonville Public Library

About the American Library Association Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world, providing association information, news, events, and advocacy resources for members, librarians, and library users. The Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services supports equity and inclusion as fundamental values of the association. Initiatives undertaken by the office help ensure the inclusion of diverse perspectives within the library profession and advocate for equitable access to library services for all.

About ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy believes every adult has the right to literacy. ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, is committed to creating a world in which all adults are literate. ProLiteracy has 1,000 member programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and works with 52 nongovernmental organizations in 34 developing countries. 

For more information about ProLiteracy, please visit

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 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit