ALA announces 240 recipients of library accessibility funding for small and rural libraries
For Immediate Release
Public Programs Office
American Library Association
CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the first recipients of its Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Accessible Small and Rural Communities grants, an initiative that will offer more than $7 million to small and rural libraries to increase the accessibility of facilities, services and programs to better serve people with disabilities.
The 240 funded proposals represent 43 U.S. states and the Northern Mariana Islands. Of the selected libraries, 65 percent serve communities of less than 5,000 people. See the full list of libraries.
One hundred libraries will receive grants of $20,000, and 140 libraries will receive grants of $10,000. Eligibility was limited to communities with populations less than 25,000 and that are located at least five miles from an urbanized area, in accordance with Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) definitions.
“Congratulations to the libraries selected for the first round of this important award,” said ALA President Lessa Kananiʻopua Pelayo-Lozada. “With projects ranging from ADA accessibility to strengthening library partnerships with local organizations that serve disabled community members, the impact of this grant will improve library access for thousands of library users across the nation.”
Selected libraries have identified a primary audience they better wish to serve (e.g., people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, etc.). Library staff will conduct community input-gathering sessions with the identified primary audience to discuss accessibility in the community and library to collaboratively identify existing resources, needs/gaps and priorities. Grantees will then use the funds to create services or improve their facilities based on the needs identified by their audience.
View the full list of grant recipients. Below is a selection of funded proposals:
- When a derecho storm hit Nevada, Iowa in 2020, the library's basement was used as a city-wide storm shelter. As community members waited out the storm, those with mobility issues had trouble safely navigating the stairs to the library basement. Nevada (Iowa) Public Library plans to get input from community members and use grant funding to install a chair lift to the basement staircase so everyone can be safe from severe weather events.
- Without a local community center or Parks & Recreation Department, Jennie Trent Dew Library in Goldthwaite, Texas is one of the only places in town for members of the community to access programs for all ages, technology and other important services. The library hosts a Thursday Club, a weekly arts and crafts and socializing afternoon for people with intellectual disabilities. The library will work with the regular attendees of this weekly program and with community leaders to expand this service and increase accessibility of materials used such as adding a wheelchair-accessible pottery wheel and kiln.
- With input from local community partners and organizations, the Mark Twain Library in Redding, Connecticut, will create themed memory kits. The kits will include evidence-based, interactive activities that enhance the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Once finalized, the kits will be available for checkout at the library and at partner organizations.
“The Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) sends our congratulations to the first round of LTC: Accessible Small and Rural Communities libraries,” said ARSL Executive Director Kate Laughlin. ”All 240 institutions are so deserving of this funding, and we look forward to seeing their proposed projects bring big change to some of the country’s smallest communities.”
In March 2022, ALA announced plans to award more than $7 million in grants to small and rural libraries to increase the accessibility of facilities, services and programs to better serve people with disabilities. Grants of $10,000 and $20,000 will be distributed over the next three years.
The second round of LTC: Accessible Small and Rural Communities will open in fall 2023. To be notified when applications open, sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter.
Since 2014, ALA has distributed Libraries Transforming Communities funding to foster community engagement skills among library workers and support need-driven projects. Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities is offered in partnership with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) with support from a private funder.
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 www.ala.org.
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 www.ala.org/ppo.
About the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services
The ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services supports library and information science workers in creating responsible and all-inclusive spaces that serve and represent the entire community. Learn more at www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/diversity.
About the Association for Rural & Small Libraries
ARSL builds strong communities through advocacy, professional development, and elevating the impact of rural and small libraries. As the premier organization representing rural and small libraries, ARSL recognizes the uniqueness of this constituency and is committed to providing an environment that encourages service excellence within our community of practice.