Free Library of Philadelphia Receives Three-Year Grant from IMLS | Compendium

The Free Library of Philadelphia Receives Three-Year Grant from the Institute of Museuam and Library Services for Community-Centered Libraries InitiativeE

The grant will support staff training and curriculum development in community-centered library practice

PHILADELPHIA, September 7, 2018—The Free Library of Philadelphia is honored to receive a $479,955 grant over three years from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

Working with language connectED, the Library will develop curriculum for four half-day Community-Centered Libraries workshops for staff. Topics will include team roles, communication, community engagement, and program development with the goal of deepening community engagement in every one of the Library’s 54 locations across Philadelphia.

Twelve cohorts will train 300 full-time public service Library staff at all levels of the organization. The first trainings will take place at the Parkway Central Library in October 2018. During the trainings, there will also be preparation for the 12-week project that participants will undertake following the workshop series. The project will allow participating staff to practice their new skills.

This initiative strongly aligns with the Library’s strategic goals to deepen community engagement and empower staff at every Library level. The curriculum is iterative and the Library will work with IMLS, language connectED, and other advisors on the curriculum for years two and three of the grant. The evaluation, taking place throughout the duration of the grant, will be conducted by Creative Research and Evaluation. The lessons and outcomes will be used to inform a national model for community-centered library practice. To follow month-to-month development and progress of the work, please refer to the Free Library’s blog.

“We are so grateful to IMLS for furthering the Free Library’s efforts to engage in—and support—deep and meaningful community engagement. It is crucial for institutions like public libraries to be responsive to community needs and to excel at listening to our neighbors and customers” said Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon. “Our staff believes that libraries are integral to strong communities, and we must continue our own professional education and growth. IMLS’s grant greatly expands the Free Library’s ability to serve as a community-centered hub that binds neighborhoods together.”

“As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”

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About the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and the Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi, including neighborhood Hotspots; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at the Rosenbach. With more than 6 million in-person visits and millions more online annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.

About Institute for Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.