(Kansas City, Missouri) – The Kansas City Public Library will extend a digital learning program that it has helped pioneer to other areas of the country, using a nearly quarter-million-dollar grant awarded this week by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
The two-year, $249,586 grant will allow Peer2Peer University – the Library’s partner in the initiative – to take its online-group-learning approach to digital training to public library systems in Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa, Charlotte, and Milledgeville, Georgia. The project is one of 25 nationwide selected for the IMLS’ newly instituted National Leadership Grants for Libraries.
The award spotlights a program launched by KCPL late last year, effectively employing the learning-circle model developed by Peer2Peer University. It trains librarians and volunteers to serve as facilitators who meet weekly with groups of five to 15 adult learners. They work together through an online course covering such digital topics as email, mapping and directions, social media, and internet safety and security. Plans are to expand the focus to job searching skills and other career training and to general education.
The Library introduced its course, “Make the Internet Work for You!,” in November 2016. Besides Peer2Peer, it draws from a 2015 pilot program across the Chicago Public Library system in which groups of online learners completed courses in a variety of subjects including public speaking, resume writing, and computer programming.
The KCPL program is overseen by Wendy Pearson, the Library’s 2016-17 digital inclusion fellow.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Kansas City Public Library to be awarded the National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services,” says U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, whose 5th Congressional District includes much of the Kansas City area. “For decades, the Library has been the only public place where children and adults know they can get help if they do not have the resources they need at home. I’m glad that our office was able to assist in making sure our libraries have the technology, equipment, and training needed to educate and assist the public.”
IMLS Director Kathryn K. Matthew similarly highlighted the value of libraries in announcing the National Leadership Grants. “As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” she said. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and approximately 35,000 museums with a mission to inspire them to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.