Information for Participating Libraries

About the Program

Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War is a scholar-led reading and discussion program for public audiences, presented by the ALA Public Programs Office and the National Endowment for the Humanities(NEH).

A total of 65 participating libraries will conduct a five-part series of reading and discussion programs, which will take place every two to four weeks, depending on local library preferences. At each session, the conversation will focus on a different facet of the Civil War experience, using one or more common texts as a foundation and touchstone.

The reading list includes works of historical fiction and interpretation, speeches, diaries, memoirs, biographies, and short stories. Readings also include an introductory essay, which provides context for the entire Making Sense of the American Civil War series and for each of the five sessions. The essay was written by the national project scholar: Edward L. Ayers, President of the University of Richmond, historian of the American South, and digital history pioneer. Professor Ayers also selected the reading materials and topics of conversation for the program.

Orientation Workshop for Project Directors

The orientation workshop for library project directors was held in Chicago, IL at the Avenue Crown Plaza, October 13-14, 2011.  

Details about this session are included in the Workshop Agenda.

Project Resources

 Final Reports

 Participating libraries are required to submit an online final report by June 30, 2012. To access the report, you must log on at with the email address and password used for the original application.


Participating Libraries Received

  • July 2011: A $3,000 grant from ALA, with funding provided by NEH, to be used for project-related expenses (e.g., workshop travel expenses, scholar honorarium, publicity, and other support materials). Indirect costs may not be charged to the grant.
  • By September 23, 2011: Twenty-five sets of March and Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, and fifty sets of the anthology America's War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on their 150th Anniversaries, edited by Edward L. Ayers, to be read in the program. Additional copies of America’s War may be purchased through major distributors (e.g., Amazon, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble), and an e-book may be purchased though the ALA Online Store.
  • October 13-14, 2011: Participation in a workshop in Chicago, designed for the library project directors and the local project scholars, offering instruction, networking opportunities, and participation in a model program.
  • October 13-14, 2011: A Site Support Notebook for libraries, which will offer resources to assist librarians in planning the series, setting program goals, working with the local project scholars, recruiting community partners, facilitating discussion group meetings, promoting the series, developing thematically related supplemental programs, budgeting, and evaluating the program.
  • By October 17, 2011: Printed promotional materials, including 30 folders, 30 copies of the thematic essay, 200 bookmarks, and 5 copies of the project publicity poster.
  • October 2011-May 2012: Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the grant term, including participation in an online discussion list for library project directors.