ALA receives nearly $300,000 federal humanities relief for pandemic-era library programming resources, program support

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the American Library Association (ALA) $278,000 in emergency relief funds to support humanities projects, including the creation of humanities content and resources for library workers in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The funding, awarded through the NEH Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will support the development of professional development materials to help libraries present virtual and socially distanced programming for their communities.

“As library workers everywhere can attest, COVID-19 has pushed libraries into uncharted terrain, especially in regard to programming — a vital and growing part of library work,” said ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. “This timely and generous NEH CARES support enables ALA to generate the ideas and start the conversations that libraries need to remain a central resource and a catalytic force within their communities in this new reality. We are tremendously grateful to NEH.”

Library workers will be able to access free articles, webinars and interviews sharing best practices and resources for developing, promoting and hosting humanities-based programming that align with health and safety precautions of the COVID era. All content will be freely available on, a website of ALA’s Public Programs Office. Sign up for the Programming Librarian newsletter.

The CARES funding will also support the continuation of national ALA humanities programming initiatives for libraries that had been suspended due to the pandemic. These include traveling exhibitions under development for touring to U.S. libraries; in-development film, reading and discussion programs; and measurement and evaluation projects. Work will be carried out from June to December 2020.

NEH received supplemental funding through the federal CARES Act to provide emergency relief to institutions and organizations working the humanities that have been affected by the coronavirus. Approximately $45 million is being distributed to cultural organizations and humanists nationwide to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic.

NEH has been a longtime supporter of ALA and libraries, recognizing their importance as humanities institutions and essential contributors to U.S. civic life. The ALA Public Programs Office has received more than $22 million in NEH funding over the past three decades to support exemplary humanities programming in public, academic, K-12 and special libraries.

ALA Public Programs Office staff collaborates with librarians, humanities scholars, artists and documentarians, scientists and financial literacy experts, museums, and others to create nationwide programming opportunities, grants and traveling exhibitions for U.S. libraries, and to offer professional development, recognition and research that supports the vital work of programming librarians.

About the American Library Association

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

About the ALA Public Programs Office

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

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

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:

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