Columbia State Receives the American Library Association’s American Rescue Plan Funding

Columbia State Community College’s John W. Finney Memorial Library has been selected as one of 200 libraries nationwide for the American Library Association’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries opportunity, an emergency relief program to assist libraries that have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Finney Library will use funds to anchor itself in the community as a strong humanities institution. The competitive award comes with a $10,000 grant that will help the library deliver excellent programs and services related to culture, history, literature, and other humanities subjects.

“Thank you, Patrick McElhiney, for writing this grant and thanks to the American Library Association for providing funding,” said Anne Scott, Columbia State library director. “Columbia State’s library is excited about the opportunity to engage students in the humanities classes utilizing literature and hands-on activities.

More than 370 libraries applied for the grant, according to ALA. Out of the libraries selected, only seven were community colleges. Columbia State was one of five libraries in Tennessee to receive the funding, as well as the only community college in the state.

The participating libraries, selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process, include public libraries, academic/college libraries, K-12 libraries, and tribal, special and prison libraries. The recipients represent 45 states and Puerto Rico and serve communities ranging in size from 642 residents in Weir, Kansas, to the city of Los Angeles. Libraries were chosen with an emphasis on reaching historically underserved and/or rural communities.

“The library was such an important hub for students throughout the pandemic; offering study space, computer labs and technology that could be checked out for remote use,” said Patrick McElhiney, Columbia State director of grants. “I am excited that through this grant, the library will be able to offer in-person humanities related programming, including hands-on activities which will bring students and community members in to experience our beautiful library in new and creative ways.”

Columbia State plans to use the funding through events and activities such as speaker events; an expansion of the library’s local authors collection; lunch-and-learn workshops on creative writing, arts, and crafting; creation of a “Culture Corner” display of books highlighting special days, nationalities, artists, authors, poets, events, gender equality, disability services, etc.; and purchases of books to support humanities courses.

“Libraries have faced significant hardships throughout the pandemic—from budget cuts to staff furloughs to building closures—especially in our communities of the greatest need,” said ALA President Patty Wong. “This crucial support from NEH will enable our beloved institutions, and the dedicated people who run them, to rebuild and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.”

American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

For more information about the John W. Finney Memorial Library, please visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/library.