IMLS Grants for Small Libraries: Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries (APP) | STAGING Compendium

Washington, DC. — For the second year, the Institute of Museum and Library Services is accepting grant applications for Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries (APP). The deadline to apply is December 2, 2019.

APP is a special initiative of National Leadership Grants for Libraries, a program that supports library and archives services nationwide by advancing theory and practice. The funding opportunity, launched for the first time in the fall of 2018, was designed to strengthen the ability of small and/or rural libraries, archives, and related organizations to serve their communities. In July, IMLS announced the first awards made under the program.

“Small libraries and archives serve as the backbone of communities throughout America,” said Cyndee Landrum, Deputy Director of Library Services. “Not only do they provide critical programs and services locally, but they also have the potential to further new practices throughout the library and archives fields. We’re proud to support funding for these organizations for a second year.”


The initiative is in line with the IMLS Strategic Plan 2018-2022, Transforming Communities, which includes goals of lifelong learning, increasing public access, and building capacity. Three categories of APP grants are available to applicants:

  • Transforming School Library Practice:School libraries support learning and the development of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills. IMLS is interested in furthering how K-12 school library professionals can serve as integral instructional partners to classroom teachers. Grant projects could include programs and services that prepare students for success in college, career, and life, or foster early, digital, information, health, financial, media, civic, and other types of literacies.
  • Community Memory:Libraries and archives not only serve as stewards of our nation’s knowledge and collections, but also as trusted spaces for community engagement and dialogue. This project category centers on engaging local communities in the collection, documentation, and preservation of their local histories, experiences, and identities. Proposals could include events and programs to digitize materials related to community histories, such as photographs, artifacts, or texts, or oral history projects that involve community members in the documentation and preservation of local histories.
  • Digital Inclusion: Libraries have an important role in promoting digital inclusion and increasing access to information, ideas, and networks. This category focuses on projects that support the role libraries play in promoting digital literacy, providing internet access, and enabling community engagement through civic data and civic technology. Grant proposals could include deploying technologies to provide residents with increased abilities to address the homework gap, increase small business development and entrepreneurship, or plan for emergency preparedness.

Cohort Learning and Evaluation

APP was also designed to build grantee capacity through participation in a community of practice based on their project category. Three third-party mentor organizations will lead these cohorts, providing expert guidance and facilitating communication between grantees. This component of the grant is designed to promote shared knowledge, build grantee capacity in relevant areas, and grow networks in the library and archives fields. In addition, IMLS intends to identify and support a third-party organization to evaluate this initiative.

Who is Eligible? 

This grant opportunity is designed for small and/or rural libraries and archives, and applicants should consider how their organization might be a good fit. There are a number of ways to be “small,” and attributes of “small” libraries or archives could include:

  • number of staff members and volunteers;
  • operating budget and sources of revenue;
  • size of the collection and range of services provided;
  • size of facility and property;
  • types, numbers, and geographic distribution of audiences served; and size relative to other organizations of the same discipline or within the same geographic region.

Institution types could include rural or urban public libraries, Native American tribal libraries, school districts representing elementary through secondary school libraries, or research or special libraries.

For more details, please read the notice of funding opportunity and the frequently asked questions.


A pre-application webinar will be held with program staff to answer questions from potential applicants on Thursday, September 12, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET. Recordings of the webinar will also be made available on-demand.