Small Grants to Libraries: Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Should I contact and confirm the local project scholar before submitting the application?

    A. Yes. In order to be considered, your application must include the name, title and vita or biography of the local project scholar who has confirmed his or her participation.
  • Q. Who is required to attend the orientation session?

    A. The library project director must attend the October 2011 orientation session in Chicago. The local project scholar is strongly encouraged to attend, but not required.
  • Q. Are institutions other than public, academic, or special libraries eligible to apply for this grant?

    A. No. However, interested high school libraries, historical societies, and other organizations are encouraged to contact their local public library to explore partnering opportunities. Such organizations can, for example, participate in drafting the application, encourage their users to participate, and help publicize the program.
  • Q. What qualifications must the local project scholar possess?

    A. The local project scholar should have a Ph.D. or advanced degree in American history, American literature, or another related humanities subject. In addition, he or she should have experience speaking before and facilitating discussion with adult audiences on humanities themes.
  • Q. Is my library's book discussion leader an appropriate scholar for this project?

    A. Yes, as long as the book discussion leader has the appropriate academic credentials (see previous question).
  • Q. May multiple scholars lead the discussions?

    A. No, Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War is designed as a reading and discussion series facilitated by a single scholar. The intent of the single-scholar model is to nurture discussion, communication, comfortable dialogue, and a relationship between the participants and the scholar over the five-session series.
  • Q. Is it better for my library system to apply as a whole, or can individual branches apply?

    A. Both library systems and individual branches are eligible to apply. Whether a system or a branch should submit an application depends on how your system is organized and the goals of your program plan.
  • Q. My library applied for a Let's Talk About It grant in the past, but it did not receive the grant. Can we apply?

    A. Yes. Libraries are invited to reapply, but we strongly encourage you to contact the ALA Public Programs Office ( to find out why the previous application was unsuccessful and to receive suggestions for improving the application.
  • Q. How long should each Let's Talk About It session last?

    A. An hour and a half to two hours is about right. Attendees will come prepared to discuss the readings. The scholar should talk for about fifteen to twenty-five minutes, and group discussion should last for about an hour. You should factor in a small amount of additional time to get started, to wrap up, and (if needed) to take a break.
  • Q. What is the best group size for discussion programs?

    A. There is no magic number. The program should be available to the largest number of people who will make an active commitment to participate in it. If the group is large, you can break into smaller groups for discussion; alternatively, you can hold the program at additional times or in additional locations. Asking people to sign up in advance for these programs is the best way to predict group size, as well as to ensure a commitment to attend.
  • Q. May multiple project directors coordinate the series?

    A. No. A single project director must be designated at each library site for the series.
  • Q. Can this series be presented at multiple sites?

    A. No. The program must be held at one library.
  • Q. What role do project partners typically play in the
    Let's Talk About It series?

    A. Project partners can be invaluable for marketing the program, identifying and providing access to scholars, creating supplemental projects, assisting with book distribution, and providing supplemental funding.
  • Q. How important are partners to this grant?

    A. The presence of community partners shows that the library can reach out to targeted audiences in the community, generate community support and interest, and capitalize on local resources. The ability to recruit partners helps demonstrate the library's enthusiasm for the program.
  • Q. May applications be submitted in hard copy?

    A. No. Applications must be submitted online at by

    11:59 p.m. Central Time, on April 19, 2011.
    Applications that are late or incomplete will not be reviewed.