National Public Library Initiative Aims to Build American Literature Collections and Enhance Public Discussion Programs

WASHINGTON, (March 13, 2000)

Carnegie Corporation of New York, National Endowment for the Humanities, The Library of America, and American Library Association launch Millennium Project for Public Libraries

Millions of Americans will soon have access to writings by many of this country's greatest authors through a national library initiative called A Core Collection for America's Libraries-The Millennium Project for Public Libraries. More than 800 libraries will receive the 50 most recently published volumes of The Library of America's distinguished American literature series.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has been awarded a $1 million grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to help budget-strapped public libraries add high-quality literary editions to their collections and expand opportunities for educational programs within their communities. Other partners in the initiative include The Library of America (LOA) and the American Library Association (ALA). The libraries that receive the 50 most recent LOA editions will be selected in an open competition administered by NEH.

"The National Endowment for the Humanities has long supported The Library of America's effort to publish our literary heritage, and it is a special pleasure now to help get the volumes into the hands of readers through libraries that otherwise could not afford them," NEH Chairman William Ferris said. "The humanities are for everyone, and the wider availability of The Library of America volumes will provide new opportunities for the enjoyment and appreciation of great American literature and strengthen the community role of libraries as educational centers."

"Andrew Carnegie began his philanthropic life by offering communities the opportunity to build libraries that would open the doors to learning, an experience that had made the difference for him as a young man," said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. "With this grant to smaller and rural libraries we commemorate that tradition begun by Carnegie 100 years ago. We also keep alive the mission he gave the Corporation: to advance and disseminate knowledge and understanding."

Urban, suburban and rural libraries are all eligible to apply to the Millennium Project. Criteria for eligibility include size of a library's book acquisition budget, size of population served and public programming services provided. Libraries must make a commitment to provide public programming organized around the LOA volumes. Public programming activities, organized by ALA, would consist of reading and discussion programs, lecture series, exhibitions, or readings by local talent from the volumes followed by discussion of the works, or a combination of these formats. ALA will advise libraries that receive the award about program organization, training and presentation.

Application guidelines and a program description will soon be available on this website.

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