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Best Small Library in America Award

Awards to Recognize USA Public Libraries that
Provide Exceptional Service to Small Communities

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Library Journal (LJ)

Deadline Date:



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Awards of $1,000 and an award of $5,000 to USA public libraries that demonstrate excellence in providing services to populations of 25,000 or less. The awards are intended to encourage and recognize libraries for their exemplary work. Judges will evaluate nominations based on key factors, including:

- Innovation in developing services and programs that can be replicated by other libraries, including outreach to underserved populations
- Success in educating patrons in computer use and other new technologies, expanding the reach of library services via technology, and measuring the outcomes of technology usage
- Creativity in addressing literacy (or multiple literacies, such as digital literacy, information literacy, etc.) across patrons of all ages, including programs focused on early literacy and school readiness (please provide evidence of impact and outcomes where available)
- Demonstrated community support
- Sustained cooperation and partnership with other libraries, schools, other agencies, and businesses.
- Increase in library use, particularly by new users
- Evidence of library’s role as a community center

Keeping the factors above in mind, nominees will be asked how, in the last two years, they have raised the profile of their library in their community, reached out to new users and remote users, impacted literacy in the community, and used technology to support and grow patron access to materials and information. Nominees will also be asked to highlight innovative approaches to traditional problems, including seemingly small fixes that work, and to highlight specific innovations that can be readily adopted by other libraries of all sizes.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 161277

Number of Grants:

There will be one cash award winner and two finalists.

Estimated Size of Grant:

The winning library will receive a $5,000 cash award, and two finalist libraries will be awarded $1,000 each. All three will be featured in the September 2019 issue of Library Journal and online.

The winner will also be highlighted at the 2019 Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference and will receive a scholarship to attend and the opportunity to speak there.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Nominee Eligibility:

- A public library serving a community with a population of 25,000 or less as of the most recent USA Census.
- A branch or mobile outreach initiative that serves a distinct population of 25,000 or less, even if it is part of a larger town, county, or district library system. The prize monies must be used only for the benefit of the population under 25,000.

Nominator Eligibility:

Anyone can nominate a library—the library administration itself, patrons, members of the community, library peers, etc.

Not eligible:

- A single community library serving a population greater than 25,000 and not providing service to a rural area or to a rural community is not eligible for the award.
- Previous winners are not eligible. Previous finalists are eligible to reapply three years after their finalist year (for example, a library honored as a finalist in the 2015 award year is eligible again for the 2018 award year).

Pre-Application Information:

Nominators are encouraged to reach out for guidance while developing nominations. Please do so by contacting Meredith Schwartz at the email address listed below.

The nomination deadline is July 2, 2019.

Contact Information:

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

Nominate a candidate:

If you have any questions regarding the submission process, please contact:
Meredith Schwartz

Library Journal
123 William St. Suite 802
New York, NY 10038

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