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Keene Public Library Receives National Grant for Small and Rural Libraries

Keene Public Library has been selected as one of 200 libraries to participate in the Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries initiative of the American Library Association (ALA. The goal of the program is to help library workers better serve their small and rural communities. 

The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library lead a serious community discussion on racial and social justice topics. The library will host book and film discussions and offer other events to bring people together to discuss these issues.

More than 300 libraries applied for the grant, according to ALA. New Hampshire was fortunate to have eight grant winners, including Chichester Town Library (Chichester, NH), Gilford Public Library (Gilford, NH), Jaffrey Public Library (Jaffrey, NH), James A. Tuttle Library (Antrim, NH), Jefferson Public Library (Jefferson, NH), Keene Public Library (Keene, NH), Olive G. Pettis Memorial Library (Goshen, NH), and Peterborough Town Library (Peterborough, NH).

 “We are so proud to be chosen for this amazing opportunity,” said Gail Zachariah, Head of Engagement and Youth Services at the Keene Public Library.  “This grant will allow our library to get to know our residents better and help us build a happier and healthier community for our families.” As part of the grant, Keene Public Library staff and volunteers will take an online course to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Then KPL staff will host a series of discussions with residents about racial and social justice. The library will use the grant funds to purchase WiFi hotspots to make these conversations more accessible to the community.

"We invite our community to have courageous conversations about race, political violence, and power in institutions. Books and literature can be powerful tools to spark conversation, build empathy, and promote healing, transformation, and change,” said Zachariah.

If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact Gail Zachariah at 603-352-0157 or  

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, 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).

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