Connecting Rural and Small Libraries to Connected Learning

The proposed project responds to the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program and covers a three-year period from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2023. This project brings together interdisciplinary faculty and research scientists from the University of Washington (UW) Information School and the University of Maryland (UMD) College of Information Studies; advisory board members (AB) that are experts in connected learning (CL), continuing education, and rural and small public libraries; and partners that have reputable standing in terms of reaching rural and small libraries nationwide. The main goal of this project is to provide continuing education opportunities to library staff in rural and small libraries on how to embed CL principles into teen programs and services by scaling the IMLS-funded ConnectedLib Toolkit developed by UW and UMD researchers (RE-06-15-0074-15 from 2015-2019) and leveraging the recent IMLS-funded Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Future Ready with the Library РFRwtL (RE 40-16-0081-16 from 2016-2019) and Transforming Teen Services: A Train the Trainer Approach РT3 (RE-95-18-0048-18 from 2018-2021). We will scale the ConnectedLib Toolkit by tailoring the content to meet the needs of rural and small library staff to serve their community’s teens successfully, as well as launching a community of practice (CoP) and learning circles that will empower these staff to support each other in building capacity and skills to implement CL activities. In addition, we will work with participating library staff to develop a new module for the Toolkit that focuses on youth civic engagement. This module is inspired by the recognition that many rural and small libraries serve as hubs of civic participation in their communities and are therefore well positioned to promote the civic engagement of their teen patrons (RE-31-16-0013-16 Phillips, Lee & Recker, 2019). The direct audiences for this grant are public library staff in rural and small libraries who serve teens. We are partnering with two organizations: YALSA and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL). YALSA was an instrumental partner in the grant that the ConnectedLib team previously received, specifically in the design, development, and deployment of the ConnectedLib Toolkit nationwide. ARSL is an active partner in the YALSA FRwtL initiative. We are continuing our partnership with YALSA and securing a new partnership with ARSL to assist in the execution of the project and help expand the reach of the ConnectedLib Toolkit to rural and small libraries through their existing network of members. The proposed project fills a significant need to produce worked examples of the application of CL in rural and small libraries, which is almost non-existent. It also fills a need to equip rural and small library staff with skills to design, develop, implement, and evaluate CL to serve teens in underserved areas that need such programming.

Grant Info


Katharine Davis


Mega Subramaniam


Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) (Total award: $427,062)



Start Date

Feb 3, 2020