ALA receives grant to advance library-led community engagement

Information provided from the American Library Association via news release:

2013.12 ala_newsThe American Library Association (ALA) announced today that it has received a grant of $1.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a two-year project, Libraries Transforming Communities.

The Libraries Transforming Communities project addresses a critical need of the field by developing and distributing new tools, resources and support for librarians to engage with their communities in new ways; strengthens librarians as community leaders and change agents; and strengthens ALA’s capacity as a lead library support entity. The two-year project includes in-person training and coaching of librarians and ALA staff and member leaders to support the transformation of library services and the expanding role of libraries as community conveners. ALA will also offer conference-based and distance-learning opportunities. Free digital resources will be accessible through the project website

“Building on a deep reservoir of trust, public libraries are in an excellent position to lead their communities toward a shared vision and a foundation for growth and innovation,” said ALA President Barbara Stripling. “With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, libraries and librarians will be better able to engage deeply with their constituents and support community aspirations.”

During the grant period, ALA will work with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation to provide training opportunities and learning resources. Libraries interested in the in-person training and coaching will be recruited through an open application process. To receive an alert when the application period for Libraries Transforming Communities opens, interested libraries should sign up for the ALA Public Programs Office’s PPO Grants electronic discussion list at

The groundwork for this project was laid during the past year when, through support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, ALA worked with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and a core group of library leaders to develop a framework for training consistent with ALA’s overall engagement with the transformation and future of libraries.

“Each library serves a unique community. Community engagement allows us to better understand our community and the aspirations and challenges faced by community members. The result is better library service, increased innovation, a greater impact on the part of the library and, ultimately, a stronger and more successful community,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels.

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