The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded the Southern Tier Library System a grant of $333,176 to conduct extensive research on the impacts of library services in rural communities. The Southern Tier Library System will partner with the Pioneer Library System and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries, to investigate how public libraries sustain or improve service in resource poor geographies. The project team will work with experts at Cornell University and the University of Arizona’s Native Nations Institute to conduct a literature review, gather data, and perform field research. Findings and products will be shared throughout the rural library community nationwide.
The research team asks Are rural libraries a component of social well being in resource-poor geographies? If so, when they are successful, what replicable practices do they employ?
As one anonymous Institute of Museum and Library Services grant reviewer wrote that the research STLS and partners will conduct has “the potential to impact a nationwide population of underserved rural communities.” The federally funded Institute had just over three million dollars to distribute in grants under this award program. The Southern Tier Library System was one of only 19% of applicants whose projects were funded. Further, the project was fully funded, awarded more than 10% of the funding pot.
Southern Tier Library System Executive Director Brian M. Hildreth has long stood as an outspoken advocate of New York’s rural communities. When the opportunity arose to develop a research program that would deepen the positive impact libraries have on the communities they serve, he and the STLS board gave their full support.
“We are honored to have been considered for this IMLS grant project, and tremendously excited to conduct the research that will lay the foundation for how rural public libraries provide meaningful impacts within their deserving communities. This research will enhance how library services are delivered and ultimately improve the quality of life for rural Americans.”