Grant Details

Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian (LB21) Program

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)


    The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21) supports professional development, graduate education and continuing education to help libraries and archives develop the human capital capacity they need to meet the changing learning and information needs of the American public. In FY2020, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program funding categories are as follows:

    • Planning Grants - Funds allow project teams to perform exploratory 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. Planning Grants are for a period of one year.
    • National Forum Grants - Funds provide the opportunity to convene qualified experts and key stakeholders, including those from adjacent fields as appropriate, to help explore current or emerging issues or opportunities that are important to professional development and education-related issues in libraries and archives across the nation. National Forum Grants may consist of one or more meetings and related activities. Recipients are expected to produce reports or other deliverables for wide dissemination and are encouraged to consider leveraging technology to allow broad participation, such as virtual meetings or live-streaming. Additional mechanisms for engaging stakeholders and building awareness of the findings are encouraged. National Forum Grants are for periods of one to two years.
    • Project Grants - Funds support recruiting and educating the next generation of library and archives professionals, developing faculty and library leaders, and assisting in the professional development of library and archives staff who serve the nation. Proposals should provide clear evidence of broad impact; current significance; strategic collaborations; demonstrated expertise; and diversity, and inclusion. Projects may further pilot, test scalability or feasibility, expand existing products or services into new audiences or contexts, or enhance existing projects or initiatives. Proposals should not simply sustain current activities or represent incremental improvements in existing programs. Applicants should design their proposed work to ensure that new practices have the potential to be easily adoptable, sustainable, and widely implementable across the sector. Proposals should feature formative methods of evaluation appropriate to the stage of concept maturity. Project Grants are for periods of one to three years. Project Grant applications which have selected the Doctoral-level project type are for periods of one to four years.
    • Research Grants - Funds involve the investigation of key questions relevant to library or archival professional practice. These proposals should build on prior empirical, theoretical, or exploratory work in libraries and archives or other disciplines (as they relate to libraries or library services). Proposals should include clearly articulated research questions, and feature appropriate methods, including relevant theoretical or conceptual approaches, data collection, and analysis. Findings and their implications for library and archival practice and services should be shared broadly throughout the grant period, rather than exclusively at the conclusion of the project. Dissemination activities should not be limited to publishing journal articles and presenting at academic conferences. Proposals focused on evaluation are not appropriate for the Research in Service to Practice category.

    In addition to these funding categories, applicants must identify at least one project category: 

    • Lifelong Learning: They are interested in proposals that will have a significant impact on the capacity of library and archives professionals to foster attitudes of discovery and cultivate critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. Work in this category may include exploring, piloting, enhancing, or scaling education and training programs, services, and partnerships focused on developing library and archives professionals skills and expertise in facilitating learning to help patrons gain literacies and skills and enable hands-on and self-directed learning. Proposals should address substantial opportunities in library and archival practice and ensure that proposed outcomes exemplify library principles and values. Proposals in this category may focus on expanding professionals capacity for:
      • Fostering collaborations between library staff and formal or informal learning organizations to address issues of shared concern and reinforce library staff as facilitators of lifelong learning. Possible partners might include, but are not limited to, staff at museums, school systems, universities, extension programs, youth serving organizations, departments of correction, and workforce and economic development organizations.
      •  Developing, implementing, and evaluating programming models and tools that provide cross disciplinary and inquiry-based learning opportunities for users of all ages. Programs may, but are not limited to, address informal STEM learning; early learning; workforce development; and digital, information, health, financial, media, civic, and other types of literacies.
      • Investigating questions related to how library services, resources, and programs impact patron learning that are informed by current library and archival practice. They should develop mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and practitioners and communicate findings in ways that will lead to demonstrable improvements in library services.
    • Community Catalysts: They are interested in proposals that build the capacity of library and archives professionals to contribute to the well-being of communities. Work in this category may include exploring, piloting, enhancing, or scaling training or educational programs related to professionals skills and expertise in strengthening civic and cultural engagement, fostering community health, promoting digital inclusion, increasing equity and access, supporting economic vitality, or decreasing social isolation. Proposals should address substantial opportunities in library and archival practice, and ensure that the proposed outcomes exemplify library principles and values. Proposals in this category may focus on expanding professionals capacity for:
      • Identifying community opportunities, addressing community needs, providing community based programs, establishing or deepening strategic relationships, and enhancing services that support and engage the community.
      • Integrating into library theory and practice approaches and techniques including, but not limited to, design thinking, data analytics, impact assessment, leadership development, organizational change, asset mapping, and collective impact.
      • Developing, implementing, assessing, and scaling programs, services, tools, and partnership models focused on enhancing opportunities and well-being in communities. Topics may include, but are not limited to, workforce and economic development; financial, health, or legal services; and increasing equity and access.
      • Investigating widespread community challenges and opportunities that are informed by current library and archival practice, and feature mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and practitioners. Findings should be communicated in ways that could lead to demonstrable improvements in library services, sustained community engagement, and increased reach to new and existing library and archives users and underserved audiences.
    • National Digital Infrastructures and Initiatives: They are interested in proposals that will have a broad impact on library and archives professionals capacity to provide access to digital content, collections, and services to a wide range of users. Work in this category may include exploring, piloting, enhancing, or scaling training or educational programs related to professionals skills and expertise in open source digital library infrastructures, efforts to engage communities with digital library content and collections, and other activities related to shared tools and services. This work may also involve assessing opportunities for and impact of investments in education and training to support digital libraries and archives. Proposals should address substantial opportunities in library and archival practice and ensure that the proposed outcomes exemplify library principles and values. Proposals in this category may focus on expanding professionals capacity for:
      • Designing, developing, implementing, and maintaining digital tools and services.
      • Providing access to digital content and collections at scale for users of all interests and skill levels.
      • Assessing barriers to the adoption of tools and services, and increasing the accessibility of content and collections to a wide range of users.
      • Integrating shared resources and collaborative networks for public access to and preservation of digital library content and collections.
      • Investigating the sustainability, interoperability, and long-term value and impact of digital content and collections to diverse user communities.
      • Curating new or complex content types or digital formats.
      • Enabling the ethical stewardship of diverse or culturally sensitive digital content and collections.
      • Enhancing information literacy and digital inclusion efforts through expanded broadband connectivity, data privacy and security, or civic data use.
      • Engaging communities in the co-creation, interpretation, and stewardship of digital library content and collections.

    History of Funding

    Previously funded projects can be viewed at:

    Additional Information

    Eligible costs include: 
    • Tuition and fees;
    • Course buyouts, summer session salary;
    • Project personnel (contract or in-house) whose time is necessary for the proper and efficient execution of the project;
    • Project consultants and their travel;
    • Workshops, conference attendance, and other professional development activities;
    • Mentoring programs/internships/residencies/fellowships;
    • Educational materials, staff time, and supplies for sharing the impact of the activities;
    • Evaluation to show the extent to which the project has met its goals;
    • Dissemination/communication activities;
    • Publication of articles in open access journals;
    • Preservation of digital assets; and
    • Indirect or overhead costs.
    Ineligible costs include:
    • general fundraising costs, such as development office staff or other staff time devoted to general fundraising;
    • general operating support;
    • acquisition of collections (no costs are allowed for the purchase of any object to be included in the collection of a museum, except library, literary, or archival material specifically required for a designated activity under a Federal award under the Museum and Library Services Act, Pub. L. 104-208 (20 U.S.C. 9101-9176), as amended);
    • general advertising or public relations costs designed solely for promotional activities other than those related to the specific project;
    • construction or renovation of facilities (generally, any activity involving the construction trades is not an allowable cost.);
    • contributions to endowments;
    • social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment; and
    • pre-award costs.


    Sarah Fuller

    Sarah Fuller
    1800 M Street NW, 9th Floor
    Washington, DC 20036-5802
    (202) 653-4783

  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants must be one of the following 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 public libraries, elementary and secondary school libraries, 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, and 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, which is a part of an institution of higher education through which it would make application;
    • 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; and
    • 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.

    Deadline Details

    Preliminary proposals are to be submitted by September 27, 2019. Successful applicants were then invited to submit a full proposal by April 13, 2020. A similar application cycle is anticipated annually. 

    Award Details

    Up to $8,000,000 is available in funding for an anticipated 30 awards. Average award is $262,287. Individual awards vary based on program area: 

    • Project Grants: Awards may be up to $1,000,000. Projects requesting more than $249,999 in IMLS funds require 1:1 cost share, excluding student support costs.
    • Planning Grants: Awards may be up to $100,000.
    • National Forum Grants: Awards may be up to $150,000.
    • Research Grants: Awards may be up to $500,000.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
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    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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