IMLS announces $15 million in Library/Museum American Rescue Plan Act grants

For Immediate Release
Fri, 05/28/2021


Shawnda Hines

Assistant Director, Communications

Public Policy and Advocacy

American Library Association

Treasury announces distribution of $19.5 billion in local, tribal government aid

WASHINGTON - The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced the availability of $15 million in new funding opportunities for libraries and museums through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The grants are intended to support community needs created by COVID-19 pandemic and boost community recovery efforts. Deadline for applications is June 28 and will be awarded in October. 

With support from library advocates across the nation, Congress passed ARPA on March 10 which included $200 million for IMLS – the single largest investment in the agency’s 25-year history – providing emergency funding for budgetary expenses brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. IMLS has already distributed $178 million of this funding to state library administrative agencies.  

Grants will be awarded in amounts ranging from $10,00 - $50,000 and are open to multiple library types including public, school, academic, research and special libraries, in addition to tribal organizations, consortiums, non-profits and museums. The IMLS grant application material can be accessed online here and requires applicants to create a application. A free informational webinar will be made available on-demand on the IMLS website

Library entities must provide funds from non-federal sources in an amount that is equal to or greater than the amount of an IMLS request. No cost share is required for Federally recognized Tribes or for nonprofit organizations that primarily serve and represent Native Hawaiians. 

Proposals to this grant program may continue, enhance, or expand existing programs and services, or launch new programs to address emergent needs and unexpected hardships due to COVID-19. Reflecting IMLS’s goals of championing lifelong learning, strengthening community engagement, and advancing collections stewardship and access, successful projects for this grant program will: 

  • Advance digital inclusion through approaches that may include, but are not limited to, improving digital platforms, online services, connectivity (e.g., hotspots), and creating digital literacy programs, as well as creating new processes and procedures needed to sustain a robust online environment. 

  • Support hiring new staff and training or retraining existing staff to ensure a workforce that has the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities. 

  • Build community-focused partnerships, networks, and alliances with organizations with an emphasis on complementing, rather than duplicating, resources and services. 

  • Support the creation and delivery of online and in-person educational, interpretive, and experiential programs and exhibitions for learners of all ages. 

  • Provide trusted spaces for community engagement and dialogue to foster recovery and rebuilding. 

  • Support efforts to collect, preserve, manage, and interpret documentary sources and tangible objects representing all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic experience. 

In addition to the IMLS announcement, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced it will be distributing $19.5 billion in ARPA aid to smaller local and tribal governments. Funding will support crucial relief to local entities serving a population under 50,000.  ALA urges members in these smaller communities to work with local officials and/or tribal leaders to consider library needs as they develop plans to make use of these funds. ARPA allows for a broad range of services and programs to be supported with these funds.