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James V. Brown Library receives $10K grant, highest nonprofit recognition

The James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., is one of 200 libraries nationwide to receive a $10,000 grant through ALA’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries opportunity.

The American Library Association (ALA) has awarded $2 million in humanities funding to libraries nationwide, part of a grantmaking program to deliver relief to libraries recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the libraries will use funds to anchor themselves as strong humanities institutions and vibrant centers of learning, conversation and connection.

“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.”

The 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 American Rescue Plan opportunity will help libraries create or preserve jobs; support or maintain general operations; create or sustain humanities programs; and implement new humanities activities or sustain existing activities.

“Strong public libraries are at the heart of healthy communities,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is grateful to the American Library Association for their exemplary work in helping distribute NEH American Rescue Plan funding to assist our nation’s libraries in recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic, and strengthen their role as local centers of humanities learning, research, and public programs.”

The libraries selected in Pennsylvania are:

• Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library, Waynesboro

• Apollo Memorial Library, Apollo

• Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown

• Braddock Carnegie Library Association, Braddock

• Cambria Library Association, Johnstown

• Community Library of the Shenango Valley, Sharon

• Cooper-Siegel Community Library, Pittsburgh

• James V. Brown Library, Williamsport

• Jefferson Hills Public Library, Jefferson Hills

• Kutztown Community Library, Kutztown

• Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity, Nazareth

• North Wales Area Library, North Wales

• Saint Marys Area School District, St Marys

• Sayre Public Library, Sayre

• Somerset County Library, Somerset

• Upper Dublin Public Library, Fort Washington

• William Jeanes Memorial Library, Lafayette Hill

In addition to the $10,000 grant selected libraries will receive a print copy of “Going Virtual: Programs and Insights from a Time of Crisis” by Sarah Ostman for the ALA Public Programs Office (ALA Editions, 2021), online resources and support.

The Brown Library will use this funding to create book clubs for all ages, provide ongoing history programs for adults, create senior outreach kits, offer free performances by local theatre companies, design cultural connections kits for children, and host a summer digital arts camp for teens.

American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries is made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The Brown Library recently was also awarded the 2022 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, a service of Candid.

By sharing metrics that highlight progress the Brown Library is making toward its mission, the organization is helping the public move beyond simplistic ways of nonprofit evaluation such as overhead ratios.

“In accordance with our long-held belief in being transparent about our work, we are excited to convey our organization’s results in a user-friendly and highly visual manner,” said Barbara S. McGary, Executive Director of the Brown Library. “By updating our GuideStar Nonprofit Profile to the Platinum level, we can now easily share a wealth of up-to-date organizational metrics with our supporters as well as GuideStar’s online audience, which includes donors, grant makers, our peers, and the media.”

To reach the Platinum level, the Brown Library added extensive information to its Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar: basic contact and organizational information; in-depth financial information; qualitative information about goals, strategies, and capabilities; and quantitative information about results and progress toward its mission. By taking the time to provide this information, the Brown Library has demonstrated its commitment to transparency and to giving donors and funders meaningful data to evaluate nonprofit performance.

The library focuses on several metrics for success, including the number of participants attending programs, the number of people who walk through the doors, and the total of public computer and wi-fi usage. The Library’s profile is available at https://www.guidestar.org/profile/24-0799180.

The GuideStar database contains a profile for every tax-exempt nonprofit registered with the IRS. The profiles are populated with information directly from nonprofits, the IRS, and other partners in the nonprofit sector.

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.

The ALA Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types. Learn more at www.ala.org/ppo.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.

The James V. Brown Library is open for browsing and holds pick up from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. To place a hold, visit www.jvbrown.edu or call 570-326-0536 during the library’s operating hours. The library also is open for public computer usage and for services such as printing, faxing, copying and scanning. Walk-in passport services are available. Brown Library is the 2021 PA Library of the Year.

The James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., Williamsport, Pa., is the place to go to learn, connect and grow. Founded in June 1907, the library champions the love of reading, opens new doors to lifelong learning, provides a haven to those who seek and ensures the preservation of public library services for future generations. The library has more than 225,000 visitors in a year and circulates a half-million items annually. A member of the Lycoming County Library System, the James V. Brown Library participates in PA Forward, a statewide initiative to promote literacies in our communities to power a better future for everyone.

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