WebJunction to Lead and Support New IMLS Grants

WebJunction /

OCLC’s WebJunction program is pleased to announce their role in five new IMLS grant projects. In addition to leading one of the new grants, we will serve as advisory, dissemination, or design partners on three additional IMLS National Leadership Grants and one Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant.

Libraries Responding to the Opioid Crisis

WebJunction will lead the initiative Supporting Library Responses to the Opioid Crisis to develop a set of free online resources that staff at public libraries can use to determine how their library can address opioid use disorder in their local communities.

The resources will include pragmatic strategies, tools, and other content to help guide libraries—particularly those in rural areas—as they determine their specific communities' needs and define the roles and activities their library is most suited to carry out. These resources will help libraries assess their staff strengths and capacity, identify key local partners with whom to collaborate or coordinate, and plan and implement an initiative that contributes to ending the opioid crisis.

"While our primary focus has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic continues to devastate families, neighbors, and entire communities," said Skip Prichard, OCLC President and CEO. "The resources created by this project are intended to help individual libraries determine the best course of action to help those in need."

The Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) is a key supporter of the project and will promote opportunities to participate, webinars, and other resources created during the project.

"Many of our more than 1,900 members serve communities that have been uniquely impacted by this epidemic. Rural communities often struggle with issues of access surrounding health care, including mental health care, and public libraries are well-positioned to serve as trusted information sources on these sensitive topics for the people they serve. We recognize the importance of raising awareness and reducing stigma around the topic of opioid use disorder and its impact on our workplaces and our communities," stated Kate Laughlin, Executive Director of ARSL.

This initiative builds on IMLS-funded research completed by OCLC and the Public Library Association, Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities (2018-20), and will provide libraries with resources that align with five recommended areas for action that emerged from that project:

  • Evaluate local health data
  • Seek community partners
  • Educate staff and community members on the issue
  • Consider staff care needs
  • Offer programs and services that support local needs

The opioid epidemic was declared a national public health emergency in the fall of 2017, the impacts of which have been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020. In March 2021, the American Medical Association reported that more than 40 states indicated recent increases in opioid-related deaths and, as before the pandemic, rural areas continue to be impacted heavily. Recent CDC provisional drug overdose death counts show that 2020 deaths were nearly 30 percent higher than in 2019.

This initiative will help strengthen and support libraries—and, more broadly, the communities they serve—as the nation continues to struggle with the opioid crisis.

The project will launch in September 2021, and all resources created for this project will be made available through WebJunction.

WebJunction Joins Four IMLS Grants as Partner

The WebJunction team will also be working with partners on four additional IMLS grants, leveraging our experience and expertise in designing, delivering, and disseminating transformational programs that connect public library service to community needs. We hope that WebJunction’s support and extensive communication channels with help ensure visibility and sustainability of these responsive new projects.

Misinformation Escape Room: Supporting Libraries as Hubs for Misinformation Education. The University of Washington Information School will develop and implement a comprehensive program for libraries that aims to foster greater understanding and resilience to misinformation. By building and deploying an online escape room hosted by librarians, the grant will improve libraries’ capacities to address misinformation through innovative educational programming.

STEM Equity Framework: Building Equitable, Inclusive Library Services That Address Community Needs. Cornerstones of Science, in partnership with the Institute of Innovative Learning, the University of Missouri School of Library and Information Science, WebJunction, and nine state library agencies, will develop a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) equity framework for libraries and a library leadership training program. The project will build state and public library capacities to serve as community catalysts for equitable STEM learning and strengthen library leaders’ skills and expertise to deliver equitable, inclusive, culturally responsive services, in partnership with local leaders, that address science-based issues of concern to local community members.

Library-Based Data-for-Good Programming: A Win for Libraries, Learners, and Communities Nationally. Leveraging and expanding on previous Providence Public Library (PPL) work in data visualization, data analysis, and data programming for diverse youth and adults, PPL will seed an innovative, responsive, holistic education program called Data For Good in partnership with institutions across the country. Data for Good programming has the potential to engage and impact teens and adults across a broad age spectrum, according to individual community’s needs, demands, and priorities.

Libraries as Hubs for Making Neighborhood Games and Storytelling: American University, in collaboration with the District of Columbia Public Library will train libraries in 25 cities and towns to serve as hubs for making neighborhood games and facilitating storytelling for community engagement. This project offers libraries the tools, training, and templates they need for DIY storytelling to cross the digital divide, bringing together digital collections and technology, with residents themselves as makers. The games are made with Hive Mechanic, a game engine for neighborhoods.

Stay tuned for updates on our work on these new grants by subscribing to Crossroads, WebJunction's email newsletter.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America's museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.