BPL Receives ALA Small Libraries Grant

BROOKINGS PUBLIC LIBRARY RECEIVES NATIONAL GRANT FOR SMALL AND RURAL LIBRARIES $3,000 Grant Will Help the Library Work with Residents on Black History Education and Community Conversation over Inclusive Community Building in February

The Brookings Public Library has been selected as one of 100 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities. The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the Library host Black History Month events and a community conversation event in February 2022.

“The Library is honored to receive this grant and I’m so excited to get this project started,” said Library Community Services Coordinator Mikaela Neubauer. “This grant will allow the community to be informed on Black history and issues, work at becoming allies and good neighbors, and discuss what we’ve learned throughout the course of the month and how to use it to shape our actions and better our city.”

As part of the grant, Brookings Public Library staff will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Staff will then host a conversation with residents about ways that they can, both as individuals and as a community, make Brookings a more inclusive place to live.

In addition to the community conversation, the Library will use the grant funds to host Black-author-focused book clubs, offer a free Bystander to Upstander training, and host Black presenters on Black history, as well as diversity and inclusion topics. The month’s events will conclude with a celebration of Black culture with food, performances, and fellowship.

The Library believes this project is extremely timely. In 2020, the Brookings Human Rights Commission hosted a Community Listening Session with members of Brookings’ Black community. This session revealed that Black Brookings residents want to see more education on Black history and culture, feel a sense of belonging, erase stereotypes, and have white allies in the community that they can trust. “This is the Library’s response to that Listening Session,” said Neubauer. “We have the ability to take action now, so why wait?”

If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact Mikaela Neubauer. Details on the Library’s Black History Month events and community conversation are forthcoming. For additional information about other programs and services of the Brookings Public Library, visit our website  and be sure to follow us on Facebook. The mission of Brookings Public Library is to provide materials and information contributing to the education, recreation, and quality of life for the Brookings community.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).