ALA's Libraries Transforming Communities Initiative for Small/Rural Libraries Funds 100 New Projects Nationwide

For Immediate Release
Thu, 11/04/2021


Hannah Arata

Communications Associate

Public Programs Office

American Library Association

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce 100 small and rural libraries selected in the third round of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Focus on Small and Rural Libraries.

The libraries, selected through a competitive peer-reviewed application process, join a list of over 500 small and rural libraries representing 48 states who have previously received the community engagement grants this year. Approximately half of the libraries funded in the current round are repeat grantees, having previously participated in an earlier phase of the community engagement initiative.

In 2021, nearly $2 million has been awarded to small and rural libraries to help them address issues of concern in their communities. Libraries receive funding to tackle issues ranging from media literacy to COVID-19 safety to unemployment and receive training in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to 21st-century librarianship. The initiative is part of ALA’s longtime commitment to preparing library workers for the expanding role of libraries.

Participating library workers complete a free ALA e-course on basic facilitation skills; host at least one conversation with community members on a chosen topic; and receive $3,000 to support community engagement efforts. Grant funds may cover a range of expenses, including staff time and collections and technology purchases.

View the full list of libraries from rounds 1, 2 and 3.

Examples of planned conversations from round 3 grantees include:

  • Hewitt Public Library in Texas will facilitate conversations for young adults with disabilities and their families about their experiences in the community. Once the conversations conclude, the library hopes to develop activities and social networking programs for this population, providing a much-needed resource for the community.
  • Located on a working waterfront harbor, 90% of the residents in Harpswell, Maine work in the fishing industry. Cundys Harbor Library will host a conversation focused on the challenges longtime residents are facing regarding the recent rise in the gentrification of the waterfront.
  • With no senior center in town and a lack of senior-focused programming, Indiana’s Oakland City Columbia Township Public Library will host conversations to address what services are needed for local senior citizens while addressing health, wellness, and lifelong learning.

Since 2014, ALA’s community engagement initiative, Libraries Transforming Communities, has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is offered in partnership with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL).

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types. Learn more at

About the Association for Rural & Small Libraries

The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) is a network of persons throughout the country dedicated to the positive growth and development of libraries. ARSL believes in the value of rural and small libraries and strives to create resources and services that address national, state, and local priorities for libraries situated in rural communities.