Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries - Frequently Asked Questions

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions

Preparing your application

Q. How long will the application take me to fill out?

A. We can't give you an exact time, because it depends on a few factors, but we would estimate about two hours. If that sounds like a lot, please don't let it dissuade you! In that two hours, we are including the time to create a log-in, review the questions, and think about and write your responses. When they read your proposal, our reviewers will want to get to know about your community, your plans, and how this funding and training will make a difference. For tips on writing a competitive grant, watch the Programming Librarian Grant Writing 101 webinar or email to be connected with an LTC Outreach Consultant in your area.

Q. May I preview the grant application before completing it?

A. Yes. You may download a PDF of the application for reference; the application process is also covered in detail in the guidelines.

Q. May applications be submitted in hard copy?

A. No. Applications must be submitted online by 11:59 pm (CST) on December 2, 2020. Applications that are late or incomplete will not be reviewed.

Q. My library has multiple branches interested in submitting a proposal. Can branches apply individually or should we submit a single application?

A. Branches within the same library system may submit individual applications (even if they share the same DUNS number) as long as their institution meets the eligibility requirements. However, please note that this may mean that your applications are competing against each other.

Q. Can multiple institutions apply together?

A. Multiple libraries can choose to submit a single application together if they feel they do not have the capacity to administer the grant individually. Please note that for libraries that apply together, one library must be selected as the primary applicant with all other institutions included as partners. In this case, the partner libraries should include letters of commitment which can be uploaded to the application in the “Upload Supporting Materials” section. The primary applicant will be responsible for managing all aspects of the grant and will act as the main contact for ALA.

Q. Who should my letters of support be addressed to?

A. You can address any letters of support to the ALA Public Programs Office.

Q. What do you mean by certifying official?

A. The certifying official who signs off on your application should be anyone with your library who is able to submit applications for funding on behalf of the institution. This may vary depending on the institution but is typically the library director.

Q. Can the certifying official be the same person as the project director and/or the person submitting the application?

A. Yes. The certifying official can be the same person listed as the project director and/or the person submitting the proposal as long as they are able to submit applications for funding on behalf of their institution.


Library Type

Q. What types of libraries are eligible?

A. This opportunity is open to any type of library in the U.S. and U.S. territories that serves a small and/or rural community(ies).

Q. What do you mean by a rural and/or small community?

A. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines a rural community as one that is more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area and small communities to have a population of 25,000 or less.

Q. I’m from an academic library serving a student population of less than 25,000 but we are located in a city. Am I eligible for this opportunity?

A. No. In order to be eligible, academic libraries must be located in and serve a small and/or rural community that meets the IMLS definition above.

Q. My library serves a small/rural community but is part of a consortium of libraries that serves more populated and/or less isolated areas as well. Is my library eligible?

A. Yes. If the applicant library serves a small/rural community it is eligible.

Q. I work in a tribal library in a small and/or rural community. Is my library eligible to apply?

A. Yes. Tribal libraries serving small and/or rural communities are eligible to apply.

Q. Are non-accredited libraries allowed to apply?

A. Yes. Non-accredited libraries (e.g.: volunteer-run libraries) are allowed to apply.

ALA/ARSL Membership

Q. I’m not currently a member of ALA or ARSL. If I sign up for an individual membership or my library signs-up for an institutional membership, can I apply for the grant?

A. Yes. Your institution is eligible to apply if an ALA or ARSL membership is current at the time of submission of the grant proposal.

Q. One of my colleagues is an ARSL or ALA member. Will their membership satisfy the eligibility requirement for my library?

A. Yes, if an employee of your library has an ARSL or ALA membership it will satisfy the eligibility requirement.

Q. How do I become an ALA or ARSL member?

A. To become a member of either association, follow the links below:

Q. Can libraries use the grant funds to pay for the required ALA or ARSL membership?

A. No, ALA/ARSL membership is not an eligible expense for the award. Please note that ALA or ARSL membership is required at the time of application submission, not at time of award disbursement.

Timeline/Review Process

Q. How many grants will be awarded?

A. In total, 650 grants will be awarded to libraries serving small and/or rural communities over the course of two application periods. The first application period will select at least 200 libraries and the second application period will select up to 450 libraries to receive grants.

Q. When will the second application period be?

A. The second application period will begin on January 4, 2021. Applications for the second period will be due by March 4, 2021.

Q. How will I be notified about the status of my application?

A. You will receive a confirmation email as soon as your application is submitted. All applicants will be notified of their award status via email by December 14, 2020.

Q. Can I edit my application after it has been submitted?

A. No. Applications cannot be edited once they are submitted.

Q. How will my library’s proposal be reviewed?

A. Proposals 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.

Q. If I am rejected in Round 1, can I apply again in Round 2?

A. Yes, if your application is rejected in Round 1 you may choose to revise your application and re-apply in Round 2.

Award Information

Grant Requirements

Q. Can I use the $3,000 to purchase PPE? What about ebook licenses?

A. LTC grant funds are restricted to project related expenses. These may include, but are not limited to, things such as:

  • Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supplies
  • Purchase of collection materials and/or ebook licenses
  • Tech equipment
  • Project supplies
  • Library staff time
  • Additional facilitation training for library staff
  • Payment to project partners for reimbursement or direct funding of services and support provided
  • Promotion and publicity

Q. Are there any ineligible expenses for the grant funds?

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

Q: Are capital expenses eligible budget expenses?

A. Yes. Please note that in the budget section of your application you will be required to provide information on what you plan to spend grant funds on and how the expenses specifically support your project plans.

Q. How long will it take to complete the LTC: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries asynchronous e-course?

A. The e-course takes approximately 3 – 4 hours to complete.

Q. I’ve already completed the e-course and been having community conversations. Do I need to do more, or can I just go straight to my plan for what I want to do with the funding?

A. To meet grant requirements, you will still be required to host a minimum of one conversation with community members between February 1, 2021 and July 1, 2021. To apply for the grant, you should fill out the application form with your plans for hosting a conversation during this period.

Q. What are the reporting requirements for the grant?

A. Recipients are required to complete a final report by September 30, 2021 and share the content/outcomes of their conversation 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 community 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.

Grantees will also be responsible for participating in the project evaluation by answering requests from the independent project evaluators. These requests may include responding to surveys, participating in phone interviews, and/or hosting a site visit.

Additional Questions

Q. I have additional questions about my application. Who can I contact?

A. Call the ALA Public Programs Office with any application or grant-related questions: (312) 280-5045 or toll free at (800) 545-2433 x 5045. You can also send an e-mail to