For immediate release | June 25, 2013

ALA announces “Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry,” a traveling exhibition and public programming opportunity for libraries

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in partnership with the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Library and the Mount Holyoke College (MHC) Library, invites applications from public, academic and special libraries for Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry: A Traveling Exhibition and Public Programs for Libraries about the Dust Bowl. The project is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Online applications must be submitted to ALA by Sept. 30, 2013. The application may be found at

The project features a traveling exhibition and a series of programs designed to help public audiences engage in discussions about the human and ecological consequences of one of America’s most disastrous environmental experiences. The exhibit and programs highlight several overlapping humanities themes: the nature of the connection between humans and nature, the many ways human beings respond to adversity; and how people came to understand and to describe the experience of living in the Plains during the Dust Bowl. The project draws upon OSU’s “Women in the Dust Bowl,” online oral histories of Dust Bowl survivors, and the MHC’s Caroline Henderson papers—letters, essays and articles by a woman who farmed throughout the Dust Bowl period. Ken Burns’s film, "The Dust Bowl," is also an inspiration for the project.

Twenty-five sites will be selected to present the exhibition and associated public programs in their communities for a period of six weeks. The exhibition requires approximately 300 square feet of space for optimal display. Libraries selected for the project will receive a grant of $1,200 from the ALA, with funding provided by the NEH, for expenses related to public programs. Participant institutions will also receive a DVD of the Burns film to use in local programming. The tour and programs will begin in June 2014 and continue through December 2015.

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service in all types and sizes of libraries. Successful library programming initiatives have included “Let’s Talk About It” reading and discussion series, traveling exhibitions, film discussion programs, the Great Stories CLUB, LIVE@ your library and more. Recently, the ALA Public Programs Office developed, an online resource center bringing librarians timely and valuable information to support them in the creation of high-quality cultural programs for their communities. For more information on the ALA Public Programs Office, visit

The Oklahoma State University Library is the home of and a key partner in the University’s multidisciplinary Center for Oklahoma Studies as well as the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program. The Library exists as a resource to expand the learning potential of students and Oklahoma residents and to enhance the teaching and research capabilities of OSU faculty.

Mount Holyoke is the oldest continuing liberal arts college for women in the United States. The college’s mission is to educate a diverse residential community of women at the highest level of academic excellence and to foster the alliance of liberal arts education with purposeful engagement with the world. Mount Holyoke holds the papers of Caroline Boa Henderson, class of 1901, documenting her daily activities and difficulties, including the Dust Bowl, on the family farm in Oklahoma.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, new technologies, exhibitions and programs in libraries, museums and other community places. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

Related Links

Online application for Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry: A Traveling Exhibition and Public Programs for Libraries about the Dust Bowl:

Programming Librarian:

ALA Public Programs Office:

National Endowment for the Humanities:


Jennifer Dominiak

Program Officer, Exhibitions

ALA Public Programs Office