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$20,000 Grant will help the library provide users with a private space


Ely, Iowa — Ely Public Library has been selected as one of 240 libraries to receive a nation-wide grant: Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities. This is an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that provides community engagement and accessibility resources to small and rural libraries to help them better serve people with disabilities.

This competitive award will provide a $20,000 grant to install a private meeting space in the library. Currently, there is not space designated for people to meet privately. This will allow persons with a variety of disabilities to utilize this private space for confidential issues, meetings, or appointments.

 “We are so proud to be chosen for this amazing opportunity,” said Library Director Sarah Sellon. “This grant will allow our library to get to know our residents with disabilities better. It will help us improve our services to ensure this population feels welcome and comfortable in our space.”

As part of the grant, EPL staff will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Staff will then host a conversation with residents about this grant and use the grant funds to provide privacy and support to those with disabilities.

“Many parents of children with autism have told us that their children react poorly when there is too much stimuli in the library. In the summer, we will have dozens of people in here, and those with sensory issues will now have a space that is less noisy and crowded. That is just one of many reasons we think this will be of great value to our community,” Sellon remarked.

If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact Tracy Clair at 319-848-7616, or email for more information.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.



“Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries