Public Programs Office receives IMLS grant

Contact: Lainie Castle
Project Director, PPO
312-280-5055
lcastle@ala.org
For Immediate Release
August 7, 2007

Public Programs Office receives IMLS grant

Award will fund development of an Online Resource Center for Library Cultural Programming

CHICAGO

- The American Library Association’s (ALA) Public Programs Office (PPO) is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The IMLS award of $358,000 comes from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program, and will fund development of an Online Resource Center (ORC) for Library Cultural Programming over the three-year project term.

The ORC is a web-based professional development space that will help librarians in all types and sizes of libraries find authoritative resources for cultural programming, train librarians in cultural programming techniques using a variety of online methods and involve library schools in examining the need for courses in cultural programming. PPO defines cultural programming as including humanities and arts programs in many formats: book and film discussions, author readings and presentations, exhibits, lectures by scholars, music and dance performances, drama and living history presentations, among others.

“We are thrilled that the Public Programs Office’s Online Resource Center for Library Cultural Programming was selected to receive a grant from IMLS,” said Keith Michael Fiels, ALA executive director. “Cultural programming has become an essential part of library service in all types of libraries and the demand for high-quality programs only continues to grow. The ORC will help librarians, particularly those in small and medium sized rural libraries who often cannot attend library conferences and have little funding for professional development, in their efforts to meet this demand.”

Through the ORC, the Public Programs Office will make a vast array of online cultural programming information and training tools available; provide access to “turnkey” cultural programs developed by a variety of organizations and funding agencies that have already been successful on a national level; provide professional development tools by converting printed training materials to digital format; and offer free real-time online training sessions that are pedagogically sound. The ORC will also be a place for professional networking, collaboration and mentoring at local and national levels.

During the three-year project term, PPO will conduct a major evaluation of the site by librarians, library school educators and students. PPO will also conduct evaluations outside the library community, as the site will be a major point of connectivity between the library profession and other cultural organizations, such as museums, state and regional humanities, arts organizations, Centers for the Book, cultural foundations and other interested groups.

The Public Programs Office has already begun development of the ORC, to the extent that limited resources have allowed. An “ORC in progress” may be viewed at http://publicprograms.ala.org/orc/index.html. This site will be continually updated during the project term, which concludes in 2010.

“We all recognize that the services we receive are first and foremost driven by people. Well-equipped and educated librarians and pre-professionals are at the heart of effective library services,” said Dr. Anne-Imelda M. Radice, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “The grants awarded through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program sharpen the skills of today’s library staff and train the next generation of library professionals and faculty.”

Established in 1992, the ALA Public Programs Office has a strong track record of developing library programming initiatives, including the acclaimed reading and discussion series "Let's Talk About It!," film discussion programs on humanities themes, traveling exhibitions, LIVE! @ your library®, and other programs. Recently, it established the Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment created to help all types of libraries across the country bring communities together through cultural programming (http://www.ala.org/ccf). More than 10,000 libraries and at least 10 million individuals have participated in library programming initiatives supported by the Public Programs Office. For more information, please visit http://www.ala.org/publicprograms or contact Lainie Castle, project director at 312-280-5055, lcastle@ala.org.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.