Whitewater library grants help community


The Makerspace & Programming Librarian, Torrie Thomas having the conversation with the Whitewater Middle schoolers about the library on Oct 13.

Dauntae Green, Managing Editor

The Irvin L Young Memorial Library, the Whitewater public library received three grants they applied for to help the community, and bring better opportunities. The grants are NASA at My Library, a Libraries Transforming Communities Grant from the American Library Association, a Recovery Grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council that they applied for. 

The grants have a purpose towards the initiatives of the library and how they plan on using these grants for the community. The Libraries Transforming Communities Grants focuses more on helping and understanding the needs of the community.

“The first grant was from The American Library Association in partnership with the Association for rural and small libraries and that was a Libraries Transforming Community’s Grant to host a community conversation,” said Makerspace & Programming Librarian, Torrie Thomas. “We chose to focus on middle schoolers and we actually hosted a conversation with them on Wednesday the 13th. We hosted it at the middle school so that we could kind of meet the kids where they were. And the goal behind hosting that conversation was to just talk to them about what’s important to them. What are some of their needs? What are some other challenges right now? What are they interested in? And ultimately, what do they want to do at the library? What kinds of things could the library have for events? Could we host something that would be of interest to that age group?”

The NASA at My Library grant from the American Library Association helped the community with programs, sciences, and learning for better opportunities. 

“NASA@ My Library, this grant comes from the Space Science Institute, The American Library Association, the Lunar and Planetary Institute and Education Development center. We have 4 sources there for that grant and that one is to provide library staff with resources and training to host NASA based programs. We are going to be hosting 3 programs as a result of that grant over the next year or so. The first is going to be centered around the launch of the James Webb space telescope, and that is scheduled for December 18th. In early December, we’re going to be hosting a program around the launch when the first images come back from that telescope,” said Thomas.

There are some good things that come out of the NASA grant that affect the community in positive ways as well, like offering more opportunities for STEM field education.

“NASA [grant] in particular, the reason that we decided to apply for that one was that the people who are selecting the grant recipients really wanted to focus on communities that had a large population that is typically underrepresented in STEM education or STEM professions for Whitewater, the Hispanic Latin next community that are underrepresented in STEM education and professions,” said Thomas on why they chose this grant to apply for.

There is a grant that gives the library funding greatly assists in making opportunities and resources available to the community which it plans to do in the future.

“We received a recovery grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, sponsored by The National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,” said director of the library, Stacy Lunsford. “The pandemic funding is really tight on how bad the economy has been over the past 2 years. In Wisconsin, part of our funding is based on usage by people who live in rural areas and the more usage the more funding you get. We didn’t get a lot of usage last year, we do get a portion of our funding every year from our friends of the library group doing book sale, fundraisers. They weren’t able to do any of that last year. We were pretty short in the amount of money we had for programs, and events. Normally we have a budget of about $12,000 and we get maybe half of that or a little bit more from the friends of the library. We weren’t going to be getting it so we applied for the recovery grant because that was designed to help fill gaps and funding for things that library’s lost.”

These grants give a chance to transform the community, help with educational opportunities, and fund library operations. They hope to make a difference by bringing the community together, and work with them to improve the library experience.

The Makerspace & Programming Librarian, Torrie Thomas having the conversation with the Whitewater Middle schoolers about the library.
Credit the guy who took this “Tom Ganser”