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Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21)

Grants to USA and Territories Nonprofits, Agencies, Libraries,
and Schools for Professional Development for Librarians

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

06/08/18 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofits, agencies, libraries, and schools to enhance libraries through professional development and training, the development of library leaders and faculty, and continuing education and recruitment for employees. An LOI is due February 1, 2018. Applicants should register online at least two weeks before applying.

Your application must designate one of the following four project types:

Planning Grants allow project teams to perform preliminary planning activities, such as analyzing needs and feasibility, solidifying partnerships, developing project work plans, or developing prototypes, or proofs of concept, and pilot studies. Assessing the outcomes of planning activities should be appropriate to this early stage of work. Applications are expected to provide a basic framework for planning activities that have the potential to lead to a future project.

National Forum Grants provide the opportunity to convene qualified groups of experts and key stakeholders, including those from adjacent fields as appropriate, with the purpose of fostering discussion and consideration of nationally important professional development and education-related issues among libraries and archives across the nation. National Forum grant recipients are expected to produce reports for wide dissemination with expert opinions for action or research that address key challenge(s) identified in the proposal. Additional mechanisms for engaging stakeholders and building awareness of the findings are encouraged.

Project Grants support projects to develop faculty and library leaders, recruit and educate the next generation of librarians and archivists, and assist in the professional development of library and archives staff. It is essential that projects have clear potential for broad impact. Projects may scale or further evolve an earlier phase of work, but should not simply sustain an existing project.

Research Grants involve the investigation of key questions important to the library or information science professions. Basic and applied research projects should build upon prior empirical or theoretical work in libraries and archives or other fields, such as anthropology, learning sciences, sociology, etc., as appropriate. Research proposals should include clearly articulated research questions; feature data collection and analysis methods that help the project team answer their questions; and include dissemination strategies that allow the research team to share broadly the research findings and implications of the findings for libraries and archives. Proposals for Research Grants may apply to any of the Project Types listed below: Pre-professional, Master’s-level and Doctoral-level Programs, Early Career Development, and Continuing Education.

The project categories are:
- Community Anchors
- National Digital Platform
- Curating Collections

Your application must designate one of these three project categories. You may submit as many applications as you wish; however, the same proposal may not be submitted to IMLS under more than one category. Below is detailed information about what is expected in each project category area.

Community Anchors: Priority is given to projects that will increase the capacity of library and archives professionals to support communities through training, educational opportunities, and research. Projects should improve the ability of library professionals to create meaningful community partnerships and provide programs and services that encourage civic and cultural engagement; foster community dialogue; facilitate lifelong learning; promote digital inclusion; and support economic vitality. Training, educational opportunities, and research in this category may focus on:
- Developing knowledge, skills, and competencies to identify community opportunities, address community needs, provide community-based programs, establish or deepen strategic relationships, and enhance services that support and engage the community. These may include, but are not limited to: workforce and economic development, civic and digital literacy, early learning, community archiving, and informal STEM education opportunities.
- Integrating into theory and practice approaches and techniques including, but not limited to: design thinking, data analytics, impact assessment, leadership development, organizational change, learning sciences, asset mapping, and collective impact.
- Designing and developing new and potentially replicable participatory library programming models that engage communities and provide learning experiences for library users across the lifespan, with focus on underserved communities. Possible audiences might include, but are not limited to, young children and their families/caregivers; tweens and teens; un- and underemployed adults; veterans; immigrants and refugees; people with disabilities; English language learners; and senior citizens.
- Investigating widespread community and institutional challenges that both inform and are informed by current and evolving library and related practice, feature mutually beneficial relationships between researchers, practitioners, and the communities they serve. Assessment of impact using community-based indicators (both qualitative and quantitative) and draw upon trends identified in publicly available data. Project findings should be communicated in ways that have the potential to improve library services.

National Digital Platform: Proposals should increase library and archives professionals’ capacity to create, enhance, and deploy the open source software applications used by libraries and archives. Training, educational opportunities, and research may focus on:
- Planning, implementing, or improving training or education programs for librarians or library students related to the development, implementation, or use of digital library tools and implementation of digital library infrastructure.
- Assessing the needs for and impact of investments in education and training for open source digital library tools. For example, proposed projects may examine librarians’ education and training needs for coding or other skills, or employers’ desired competencies for digital library professionals; or adoption of existing tools that might support libraries’ engagement in Open Educational Resources (OER).

Curating Collections: Proposals should increase library and archives professionals’ capacity to create, manage, preserve, and provide access to digital library collections across the country. Training, educational opportunities, and research may focus on:
- Planning for training library school students or library staff on topics related to preservation, conservation, and access. In particular, training should address the stewardship of digital collections and, as appropriate, their synergy with physical collections.
- Identifying an emerging area of importance for librarian skill development as related to the stewardship of digital collections, and bringing together stakeholders from both inside and outside the library sector to explore the topic. These projects should initiate new partnerships to increase the capacity of librarians to meet library workforce needs. This may involve working with non-traditional partners from the business or community development sectors.
- Supporting formal or informal educational programs to increase librarians’ capacity related to the stewardship of digital collections including community based digital archiving. These projects should clearly demonstrate that they build on existing work, are grounded in the needs of a wide range of libraries and archives, and that they involve a range of partners.
- Assessing the gaps in, needs for, and impact of investments in education and training products, services, and networks to support stewardship of digital collections across a range of institutions.

Your application must designate one of the following four project types on the Program Information Sheet. The same proposal may not be submitted to IMLS under more than one project type.
- Pre-Professional
- Masters-level and Doctoral-level Programs
- Early Career Development
- Continuing Education

Note: If your application has a recruitment component, you should address ways to bring to the profession skills required to enhance library and/or archives services and broaden participation in the library profession, including members of diverse groups and communities. Projects focused on developing a diverse workforce of librarians are encouraged.

Pre-Professional proposals support the development of a diverse workforce in library and information science by introducing middle school, high school, community college, or undergraduate students to explore careers in library and information science through statewide, regional, or national recruitment and part-time employment. Mentorship and service learning may be key components of projects in this category.

Master’s-level and Doctoral-level Programs:
Master’s Programs educate the next generation of librarians and archivists in nationally accredited graduate library programs to meet the evolving needs of the profession and society. Doctoral Programs develop faculty to educate the next generation of library and archives professionals. These programs should develop library and archives leaders to assume positions as managers, administrators, researchers, and faculty.

Early Career Development:
Early Career Development proposals support untenured, tenure-track library and information science faculty. Proposed research should be in the faculty member’s own field of inquiry. Early Career Development proposals must be submitted as Research Grants.

Continuing Education:
Continuing Education proposals aim to improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of library and archives professionals through formal and informal programs such as: post-master’s programs, residencies, internships, enhanced work experiences, blended learning opportunities including mentorships, online learning modules, and other training programs for professional staff.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 162207

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Planning Grants: Up to $50,000
National Forum Grants: Up to $100,000
Research Grants: Up to $500,000
Project Grants: Up to $1,000,000

Term of Contract:

Funded projects may not begin earlier than October 1, 2018, and not later than December 1, 2018. Project Grants are for periods of one to three years. Doctoral level programs may carry out project activities for one to four years. Research Grants are for periods of one to three years. Planning Grants are for periods of one year. National Forum Grants are for periods of one to two years. The anticipated period of performance runs from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2022.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for LB21, you must be either a unit of State or local government or a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code and be located in one of the 50 States of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.

In addition, you must be one of the following six types of organizations:
- A library or a parent organization, such as a school district, a municipality, a State agency, or an academic institution, that is responsible for the administration of a library. Eligible libraries include the following: public libraries; public elementary and secondary school libraries; college (including community college) and university libraries; research libraries and archives that are not an integral part of an institution of higher education and that make publicly available library services and materials that are suitable for scholarly research and not otherwise available (Research libraries must be under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian and must be either generally recognized as possessing unique scholarly research materials and services that are made available to the public, or able to demonstrate that such is the case when submitting an application to IMLS.); private or special libraries that have been deemed eligible to participate in this program by the State in which the library is located.

- An academic or administrative unit, such as a graduate school of library and information science that is part of an institution of higher education through which it would make application (see below for additional conditions of eligibility that might apply regarding institutions of higher education);

- A digital library, if it makes library materials publicly available and provides library services, including selection, organization, description, reference, and preservation, under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian;

- A library agency that is an official agency of a State or other unit of government and is charged by the law governing it with the extension and development of public library services within its jurisdiction;

- A library consortium that is a local, statewide, regional, interstate, or international cooperative association of library entities that provides for the systematic and effective coordination of the resources of eligible libraries, as defined above, and information centers that work to improve the services delivered to the clientele of these libraries;

- A library association that exists on a permanent basis; serves libraries or library professionals on a national, regional, state, or local level; and engages in activities designed to advance the well-being of libraries and the library profession.

Federally operated libraries and museums may not apply for LB21 grants, but they may participate with applicants. Native American tribal organizations may apply if they otherwise meet the above eligibility requirements.

Some project types have special eligibility conditions, as outlined below. Note: all eligible entities may apply, either individually or collaboratively, to the Pre-Professional and Continuing Education project types.

Doctoral Programs
Only graduate schools of library and information science offering programs of study at the doctoral level are eligible to apply for funding of doctoral level scholarships and fellowships, either individually or collaboratively.

Master's Programs
Graduate schools of library and information science and graduate schools that provide school library media certification programs are eligible to apply for funds to educate students at the master's level only if they apply in a collaboration that includes one or more eligible library entities. Any of the eligible applicants in the collaboration may serve as the lead applicant.

Early Career Development
- Projects must have a single project director with no co-project directors. Consultants and students may be included in the project.
- Only tenure-track, untenured library and information science faculty (by the deadline for submission of Invited Full Proposals) are eligible to serve as project directors.
- The project director must hold a doctoral degree (by the deadline for submission of Invited Full Proposals).
- The project director must have both educational and research responsibilities (by the deadline for submission of Invited Full Proposals).
- A letter of departmental endorsement, including verification of project director eligibility, must be included in the Invited Full Proposal (if invited to submit an Invited Full Proposal).

More on eligibility:

Pre-proposal Conference:

You are invited to participate in one of the pre-application webinars to learn more about the program and ask questions.

- Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 2PM-3PM ET

Recording link:

- Thursday, December 14, 2017, 3PM-4PM ET

Recording link:

Pre-Application Information:

For the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on February 1, 2018, for preliminary proposals; June 8, 2018, for invited, full proposals.

Both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email of the final decisions by September 2018.

For Project Grants, projects requesting $250,000 or more in IMLS funds require a 1:1 match.

You must submit your application through
You must register with prior to submitting your application package. The multi-step registration process generally cannot be completed in a single day. If you are not already registered, you should allow at least two weeks to complete this one-time process. Do not wait until the day of the application deadline to register.

Before submitting an application, your organization must have a current and active D-U-N-S number (a unique entity identifier), System for Award Management ( registration, and registration.
To get a DUNS number:

View this opportunity on

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Community Anchors (Planning, Forum, and Project Grants):
Marvin Carr, PhD, STEM and Community Engagement Advisor

Tim Carrigan, Senior Program Officer
Phone: 202-653-4639

Sarah Fuller, Program Officer
Phone: 202-653-4783

Community Anchors (Research Grants):
Sandra Toro, Senior Program Officer
Phone: 202-653-4662

Institute of Museum and Library Services
955 L’Enfant Plaza North, SW,
Suite 4000
Washington, D.C. 20024-2135

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URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)