Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries - Frequently Asked Questions

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries Implementation Grant FAQ


Please note: This FAQ is for LTC: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries only. Additional information such as FAQ and Guidelines for LTC: Accessible Small and Rural Communities will be made available at a later date at

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Questions

Preparing your application

Q. How long will the application take me to fill out?

A. We can't give you an exact time, because it depends on a few factors, but we would estimate about two hours. If that sounds like a lot, please don't let it dissuade you! In that two hours, we are including the time to create a log-in, review the questions, and think about and write your responses. When they read your proposal, our reviewers will want to get to know about your community, your plans, and how this funding and training will make a difference.

Q. Where can I find general grant writing support?

A. For tips on writing a competitive grant, watch the Programming Librarian webinars below:

We also encourage you to review the example proposals from Round 1 that we have available to download in the guidelines or sign up for a consultation call with ALA staff.

Q. May I preview the grant application before completing it?

A. Yes. You may download a PDF of the application for reference; the application process is also covered in detail in the guidelines.

Q. May applications be submitted in hard copy?

A. No. Applications must be submitted online by 11:59 pm (CT) on September 16, 2021. Applications that are late or incomplete will not be reviewed.

Q. This is my first time applying for a grant through ALA's grants management platform. How do I use the system?

A: For more information about using our grants management system, please visit our How to Apply webpage.

Q. I am an ALA Member, but my login credentials do not work when I try to login to apply. Why is this happening?

A: This application process is conducted through our new grant system which requires a separate login account from your ALA member login. When you are taken to the application page, click “Create Account” under the login information prompts, and you will be taken to the Account Creation page. For more information about using our grants management system, please visit our How to Apply webpage.

Q. My library has multiple branches interested in submitting a proposal. Can branches apply individually or should we submit a single application?

A. Branches within the same library system may submit individual applications (even if they share the same DUNS number) as long as their institution meets the eligibility requirements. However, please note that this may mean that your applications are competing against each other.

Q. Can multiple institutions apply together?

A. Multiple libraries can choose to submit a single application together if they feel they do not have the capacity to administer the grant individually, or if a previously awarded site would like to expand their community engagement efforts by collaborating with a neighboring community. Please note that for libraries that apply together, one library must be selected as the primary applicant with all other institutions included as partners. In this case, the partner libraries should include letters of commitment which can be uploaded to the application in the “Upload Supporting Materials” section. The primary applicant will be responsible for managing all aspects of the grant and will act as the main contact for ALA.

Q. Who should my letters of support be addressed to?

A. You can address any letters of support to the ALA Public Programs Office.

Q. Are letters of support required?

A. No - letters of support are optional. You may choose to include letters of support from your community to provide reviewers with more information about your project and community partnerships; however, they are not required and will not impact your eligibility.

Q. What do you mean by certifying official?

A. The certifying official who signs off on your application should be anyone with your library who is able to submit applications for funding on behalf of the institution. This may vary depending on the institution but is typically the library director.

Q. Can the certifying official be the same person as the project director and/or the person submitting the application?

A. Yes. The certifying official can be the same person listed as the project director and/or the person submitting the proposal as long as they are able to submit applications for funding on behalf of their institution.


Library Type

Q. What types of libraries are eligible?

A. This opportunity is open to any type of library in the U.S. and U.S. territories that serves a small and/or rural community(ies).

Q. What do you mean by a rural and/or small community?

A. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines a rural community as one that is more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area (defined as a town/city with a population of 25,000 or greater) and small communities to have a population of 25,000 or less.

Q. I’m from an academic library serving a student population of less than 25,000 but we are located in a city. Is my library eligible for this opportunity?

A. No. In order to be eligible, academic libraries must be located in and serve a small and/or rural community that meets the IMLS definition above.

Q. My library service population is greater than 25,000; however, all of the communities we serve are small/rural. Are we eligible?

A. Many rural libraries serve communities in their surrounding area and thus may have a total service population that is greater than 25,000. As long as there are no towns/cities in or within 5 miles of your service area with a population of 25,000 or more, you would be eligible as a rural library.

Q. My library serves a small/rural community but is part of a consortium of libraries that serves more populated and/or less isolated areas as well. Is my library eligible?

A. Yes. If the applicant library serves a small/rural community it is eligible.

Q. My library serves a small/rural community; however, due to the way libraries are organized in our state, we are part of a regional/county/state institution that serves larger areas. Is my library eligible?

A. Yes, even if libraries in your state are part of a single state-wide institution (e.g. Hawaii State Public Library System) or are organized into regional/county systems (e.g. South Carolina or Wyoming county libraries), as long as the library or branch that is applying serves a small/rural population, it would be eligible.

Q. I work in a tribal library in a small and/or rural community. Is my library eligible to apply?

A. Yes. Tribal libraries serving small and/or rural communities are eligible to apply.

Q. Are non-accredited libraries allowed to apply?

A. Yes. Non-accredited libraries (e.g.: volunteer-run libraries) are allowed to apply.

Q. Do libraries need to be registered 501(c)3 organizations to apply?

A. No, 501(c)3 status is not a requirement for eligibility.

ALA/ARSL Membership

Q. I’m not currently a member of ALA or ARSL. If I sign up for an individual membership or my library signs-up for an institutional membership, can I apply for the grant?

A. Yes. Your institution is eligible to apply if an ALA or ARSL membership is current at the time of submission of the grant proposal.

Q. One of my colleagues is an ARSL or ALA member. Will their membership satisfy the eligibility requirement for my library?

A. If you are applying with a personal ARSL membership, please note that the project director must be the ARSL member (other colleagues' memberships will not satisfy the requirement). If you are applying with a personal ALA membership, the membership can belong to any staff member of the applying library.

Q. How do I become an ALA or ARSL member?

A. To become a member of either association, follow the links below:

Q. Can libraries use the grant funds to pay for the required ALA or ARSL membership?

A. No, ALA/ARSL membership is not an eligible expense for the award. Please note that ALA or ARSL membership is required at the time of application submission, not at time of award disbursement.

Previous LTC Applicants

Q. I was rejected in a previous round. Can I edit my proposal and try again for the current round?

A. Yes, if your application was not selected in a previous round you may choose to revise your application and re-apply for the current round as long as your library meets the eligibility criteria.

Q. I was selected as a grant recipient in Round 1 or Round 2! Can I apply to the current round for additional funding?

A. Yes! For the current round (Round 3), previously awarded libraries are eligible to apply for additional funding. In your application, please be sure to describe your previous project and how you would like to use this opportunity to continue the community engagement efforts you started.

Q. I would like to apply as a continuing grantee, but my initial grant project is not yet complete. Can I still apply for more funding?

A. Yes, we recognize that many previous grantees (particularly from Round 2) have not yet completed their funded projects. When planning your proposed project, please note that the implementation period for Round 3 does not start until December (so your first conversation for Round 3 will not occur until after your initial project has completed), and plan your continuing effort accordingly.

Q. I was awarded a Round 1 or 2 grant and would like to apply in Round 3; however, I would like to focus on an entirely different topic. Is this allowed?

A. Yes, while some libraries may want to build on and dig deeper into the topics/conversations they explored in Round 1 or 2, this is not a requirement for continuing grantees. If you are focusing on a new topic, please describe how your experience from Round 1 or 2 will inform your continued efforts in Round 3. For example, you may use this round as an opportunity to deepen the facilitation skills you learned, to implement a sustained community engagement effort at your library, or to explore a new topic of interest that was discovered through your conversations with community members.

Timeline/Review Process

Q. How many grants will be awarded?

A. We will award up to 100 grants in this third round.

Q. How many grants will be awarded to prior vs new LTC applicants?

A. The breakdown of awards will be determined by the number and type of applications received. We estimate that 20 – 50% of awards will be granted to prior LTC applicants and 50 – 80% to new applicants.

Q. How will I be notified about the status of my application?

A. You will receive a confirmation email as soon as your application is submitted. All applicants will be notified of their award status via email by October 20, 2021.

Q. Can I edit my application after it has been submitted?

A. No. Applications cannot be edited once they are submitted.

Q. How will my library’s proposal be reviewed?

A. Proposals will be assessed by a panel of library workers serving small and rural communities and project staff of ALA. ALA will make the final decisions based on peer reviewer feedback, and other possible considerations such as geographic distribution.

Award Information

Grant Requirements

Q. Can I use the $3,000 to purchase PPE? What about ebook licenses?

A. LTC grant funds are restricted to project related expenses. These may include, but are not limited to, things such as:

  • Library staff time
  • Purchase of collection materials and/or ebook licenses
  • Tech equipment
  • Project supplies
  • Additional facilitation training for library staff
  • Payment to project partners for reimbursement or direct funding of services and support provided
  • Promotion and publicity
  • Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supplies

Q. Do I have to spend all $3,000 on a single community conversation event?

A. No! The funds can be used on any project related expenses. These could be expenses directly tied to hosting your conversation (e.g.: books for a book club, hot spots to host a virtual conversation, refreshments for an in-person meeting), but they can also be expenses related to the overall goals of your project (e.g.: additional facilitation training for staff, supplies or staff-time to host a series of related programs, purchasing resources identified as community needs during the conversation, etc.). In the budget narrative just be sure to explain how your proposed expenses relate to your project.

Q. Are there any ineligible expenses for the grant funds?

A. Yes. Grant funds may not be used to support indirect costs (e.g. general library administrative expenses) or as donations to other organizations.

Q. Are capital expenses eligible budget expenses?

A. Yes. Please note that in the budget section of your application you will be required to provide information on what you plan to spend grant funds on and how the expenses specifically support your project plans.

Q. How do I know if my planned expenses meet the qualifications of the grant?

A. It is difficult to ascertain whether expenses would be considered eligible without seeing the full proposal. As you consider your application, please note that your proposal should focus on a community engagement project involving at least one community conversation, and that the grant funds should be used to support this planned community conversation/project. You will need to provide justification in the budget narrative for how your proposed spending relates to your planned community conversation. When in doubt, refer to the guidelines to see if your project aligns with the grant goals.

Q. Can my community program be a lecture or a class? Can it be led by an outside speaker?

A. The requirement for this grant is that the project director facilitates (or co-facilitates) at least one community conversation. This program should be a dialogue with members of the community and not a lecture or class. You may choose to use the grant funds to host a series of related programs that could be lectures and/or hosted by outside speakers, but these would not count toward your community conversation programming requirement and should not be the focus of your proposal.

Q. What if our project plans change, or if we plan to use community input to determine how we use the funds?

A. If you are not sure yet what the community needs and therefore do not have an exact sense of how you will be spending the funds, we encourage you to think about what you anticipate spending the funds on and use this to inform your proposed budget. That being said, if your fund spend-down needs change over the course of your project, you can contact us to amend your budget as long as it remains an eligible expense.

Q. How long will it take to complete the LTC: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries asynchronous e-course? Do we need to take the course before we apply, or is it only available after we've been selected?

A. The e-course takes approximately 3 – 4 hours to complete. You do not need to take the course prior to applying (you just need to take it before you host your conversation); however, you may find it helpful as you prepare your proposal. The eCourse is free and available to all here. You do not need an ALA membership to access, but you will be asked to create a free ALA eLearning account. If you have already completed the LTC eCourse prior to the grant period, you do not need to retake it if awarded.

Q. I’ve already completed the e-course and been having community conversations. Do I need to do more, or can I just go straight to my plan for what I want to do with the funding?

A. To meet grant requirements, you will still be required to host a minimum of one conversation with community members between December 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022. To apply for the grant, you should fill out the application form with your plans for hosting a conversation during this period. You do not need to retake the eCourse if you’ve already completed it, but please note that the modules are available to review if you would like to refresh prior to your conversation(s).

Q. What are the reporting requirements for the grant?

A. Recipients are required to complete a final report by June 30, 2022 and share the content/outcomes of their conversation in at least one of the following ways:

  • Write a letter to a local newspaper or other media outlet or post it to the library’s social media
  • Create a video and post it to the library’s YouTube, Facebook, or other social media account
  • Write and send a letter or email to a state legislator or other elected official about the conversation
  • Create a library blog or podcast about issues discussed during the conversation or the process itself
  • Use PLA’s Project Outcome Civic/Community Engagement or ACRL’s Project Outcome Events & Programs areas to collect and share feedback about the conversation with community leaders

Grantees will also be responsible for participating in the project evaluation by answering requests from the independent project evaluators. These requests may include responding to surveys, participating in phone interviews, and/or hosting a site visit.

Additional Questions

Q. I have additional questions about my application. Who can I contact?

A. Call the ALA Public Programs Office with any application or grant-related questions: (312) 280-5045 or toll free at (800) 545-2433 x 5045. You can also send an e-mail to