For immediate release | June 21, 2011

ALA receives grant from Fetzer Institute to support public discussions of community, civility and compassion

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office and the Fetzer Institute announced their collaboration on Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion, a multi-format discussion program for public audiences. By bringing adult audiences together in the library for programs and events that include reading, viewing, reflection, discussion and civic engagement initiatives, this programming initiative will support public libraries as they strive to enhance the quality of life and learning in their communities.

Following a competitive application process, 30 public libraries around the country will be selected to host this program, which consists of a series of four to eight events to be held between Feb. 1, 2012 and Nov. 30, 2012. The selected libraries will receive:

  • A $2,500 grant to support program-related expenses.
  • Access to program models and templates, including recommended reading and viewing lists, discussion facilitation guides, video shorts and more.
  • Access to a series of online, professional development and project resource sessions.
  • Promotional materials, including posters, bookmarks and a selection of digital promotion tools, to support local audience recruitment.

More information, including programming resources and the online application, will be available in late August, 2011 at the ALA Public Programs Office website (

Additional information about this upcoming grant opportunity and strategies for public libraries to begin building a competitive application will be available at a program at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion in the Public Library will be held 8-10 a.m. Saturday, June 25, in the Morial Convention Center, Room 338. During this session, representatives from ALA will present more information about the kinds of programs supported by this grant opportunity as well as potential program models to support discussions of community, civility and compassion in the public library.

The Fetzer Institute is a private operating foundation based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Established by broadcast pioneer John E. Fetzer (1901-1991), the Institute uses its philanthropic resources to create programs that foster awareness of the power that love and forgiveness can have in our world. With an endowment of $380 million, the Institute dedicates approximately $20 million annually toward its programming efforts.

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 about the ALA Public Programs Office, visit


Angela Thullen