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ALA announces 200 U.S. libraries to receive American Rescue Plan humanities funding

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) has awarded $2 million in humanities funding to libraries nationwide, part of a grantmaking program to deliver relief to libraries recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the libraries will use funds to anchor themselves as strong humanities institutions and vibrant centers of learning, conversation and connection.

Two hundred libraries each will receive a $10,000 grant through ALA’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries opportunity.

“Libraries have faced significant hardships throughout the pandemic —from budget cuts to staff furloughs to building closures — especially in our communities of the greatest need,” said ALA President Patty Wong. “This crucial support from NEH will enable our beloved institutions, and the dedicated people who run them, to rebuild and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.”

The libraries, selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process, include public libraries, academic/college libraries, K-12 libraries, and tribal, special and prison libraries. The recipients represent 45 states and Puerto Rico and serve communities ranging in size from 642 residents in Weir, Kansas to the city of Los Angeles. Libraries were chosen with an emphasis on reaching historically underserved and/or rural communities.

The American Rescue Plan opportunity will help libraries create or preserve jobs; support or maintain general operations; create or sustain humanities programs; and implement new humanities activities or sustain existing activities.

“Strong public libraries are at the heart of healthy communities,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is grateful to the American Library Association for their exemplary work in helping distribute NEH American Rescue Plan funding to assist our nation’s libraries in recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic, and strengthen their role as local centers of humanities learning, research, and public programs.”

Examples of selected libraries include:

  • When the pandemic hit, the Palmas Academy in Humacao, Puerto Rico, had to furlough its only librarian and close its library’s doors due to budget constraints. Before closing, this school library was the main hub for humanities-centered activities in the community. Using funding from the ARP grant, the library will reopen, hire staff and welcome back students and the wider community.
  • The Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix, Arizona, was hit hard by the pandemic and has not fully reopened since closing in March 2020. The funding from the ARP grant will allow this institution, which houses a collection of over 10,000 volumes and archival material, to bring back their monthly Irish history book discussions and provide staff salaries.
  • Large groups of migrant workers live in the rural village of Cambria, Wisconsin, from April through October. This population relies on Jane Morgan Memorial Library. With ARP funding, the library will offer programming for this population and others, including bringing in speakers for adult humanities programming.

View the full list of selected libraries.

In addition to the $10,000 grant selected libraries will receive a print copy of “Going Virtual: Programs and Insights from a Time of Crisis” by Sarah Ostman for the ALA Public Programs Office (ALA Editions, 2021), online resources and support.

American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries is made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types. Learn more at

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at


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