The American Library Association (ALA) this week announced that it is making $1.25 million in emergency relief grants available to libraries that have experienced "substantial economic hardship" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the program, The ALA COVID Library Relief Fund, libraries can apply for grants ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 to bolster a wide range of library operations and services such as broadening technology access, developing collections, providing digital instruction, staffing, and expanding outreach. In a release, ALA officials said libraries serving low income and rural communities, or communities that are predominately Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, and People of Color, are especially encouraged to apply.

The fund is supported by Acton Family Giving, with initial seed funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Grant applications are being accepted online through May 20, 2021 via the ALA website.

"Libraries are incredible community assets, especially during difficult times,” said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. “Unfortunately, many libraries have suffered funding cuts that have significantly impaired their ability to provide services and resources at this critical time. We are so grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Acton Family Giving for their tremendous support and for understanding the valuable role libraries play as inclusive institutions for all."

In addition, ALA this week also announced the launch of a new fund intended to help library workers retain membership within ALA.

The ReMember Fund, established with initial funding from ALA, will provide unemployed library workers to apply for a one-time only sponsorship to cover ALA basic membership dues for one year. Early recipients of the fund will also be able to register for ALA Annual Conference at no cost through the complimentary rate for furloughed members. Applications for assistance are strictly confidential as are the recipients’ identities. In addition, ALA officials said it will also continue to offer flexible payment options to all members.

In a release, ALA officials said seed funding for the ReMember Fund will sponsor at least 100 regular memberships beginning in May, with the sponsorship of additional memberships contingent on donations from members, with ALA members encouraged to donate to the fund.