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Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21): Research Grant

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Grant amount: Up to US $500,000

Deadline: The deadline for this grant has passed

Applicant type: Museum/Library/Zoo

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Marshall Islands; Micronesia, Federated States Of; Palau; United States; American Samoa Expand all


The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program (LB21) supports professional development, graduate education and continuing education to help libraries and archives develop a diverse workforce of librarians to better meet the changing learning and information needs of the American public.

Research Grants involve the investigation of key questions important to the library or information science professions. Basic and applied research projects address an area of interest or concern for libraries and archives; include clearly articulated research questions; may build theory and/or add to existing theory and research already done in the area of interest; feature data collection and analysis methods that align with a theoretical or conceptual framework and help the project team answer their questions; and include dissemination that allows the research team to share broadly the research findings and implications of the findings for libraries and archives.

Project Types

Proposals for research grants may apply to any of the Project Types listed below: Pre-professional, Masters-level and Doctoral-level Programs, Early Career Development, and Continuing Education. Your application must designate one of these project types.

    Pre-Professional: Recruit future professionals to develop a diverse workforce in library and information science. In particular, attract promising high school or undergraduate students to consider careers in library and information science through statewide, regional, or national recruitment and part-time employment projects that are educational, cost effective, and have measurable outcomes.

    Masters's and Doctoral Programs

      • Master’s Programs: educate the next generation of librarians and archivists in nationally accredited graduate library programs to meet the evolving needs of the profession and society.

      • Doctoral Programs: Develop faculty to educate the next generation of library and archives professionals. In particular, increase the number of students enrolled in doctoral programs that will prepare faculty to teach master’s students who will work in school, public, academic, research, and special libraries and archives. These programs also develop the next generation of library and archives leaders to assume positions as managers and administrators

      Early Career Development: Support the early career development of new faculty members in library and information sciences by supporting innovative research by untenured, tenure-track faculty. Proposed research should be in the faculty member's own field of inquiry and does not need to address library education or librarianship. See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the IMLS Early Career Development Program

      Continuing Education: Improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of library and archives staff through programs of continuing education, both formal and informal, including post-master’s programs, residencies, internships, enhanced work experiences, blended learning opportunities, online learning modules, and other training programs for professional staff.

      Project Categories

      Your application must designate one of these project categories, except for Early Career Research project types. 

      Community Anchors: We are interested in projects that investigate and build the skills and knowledge of library professionals to support the role of libraries as community anchors that facilitate lifelong learning; enhance civic and cultural engagement; and support economic vitality, through programming and services. Training, research, and educational opportunities may focus on:

      • Assessing opportunities for developing new community-based programs, relationships, promising products, or services that support and engage their communities.
      • Designing educational opportunities informed by other sectors and disciplines that support library professionals’ mastery of new skills to improve their ability to address community needs. These skills may include: project management, partnership development, design thinking, data analytics, impact assessment, participatory programming, leadership development, and iterative product development or systems analysis.
      • Investigating widespread community challenges that both inform and are informed by current library and archival practice, feature mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and practitioners, occur between practitioners and their communities, and communicate findings in ways that have the potential to improve library services.

      National Digital Platform: We are interested in projects that will increase library professionals’ capacity to create, develop, and use the open source software applications used by libraries and archives to provide digital content and services to all users in the United States. Training, research, and educational opportunities may focus on:

      • Planning new training programs for librarians or library students related to the development, implementation, or use of digital library tools.
      • Supporting formal or informal educational programs to increase librarians’ capacity related to the development, implementation, or use of digital library tools including but not limited to research and public access contexts. These projects should demonstrate that they build on existing work, are grounded in the needs of a wide range of libraries and archives, and that they involve a range of partners.
      • Assessing the needs for and impact of investments in education and training for open source digital library tools. For example, proposed projects may examine librarians’ education and training needs for coding or other skills, or employers’ desired competencies for digital library staff.

      Curating Collections: We are interested in projects that will increase librarians’ and library professionals’ capacity to create, preserve, manage, and provide access to digital library collections across the country. Training, research, and educational opportunities may focus on:

      • Supporting efforts to establish plans for training library school students or library staff on topics related to preservation, conservation, and access. In particular, training should address the stewardship of digital collections and, as appropriate, the synergy with physical collections.
      • Identifying an emerging area of importance for librarian skill development as related to stewardship of digital collections, and bringing together stakeholders from both inside and outside the library sector to explore the topic. These projects should initiate new partnerships to increase the capacity of librarians to meet workforce needs
      • Supporting formal or informal educational programs to increase librarians’ capacity related to the stewardship of digital collections. These projects should clearly demonstrate that they build on existing work, are grounded in the needs of a wide range of libraries and archives, and that they involve a range of partners.
      • Assessing the gaps in, needs for, and impact of investments in education and training products, services, and networks to support stewardship of digital collections across a range of institutions.

      You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


      • You must be either a unit of State or local government or a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code and be located in:
        • one of the 50 States of the United States of America,
        • the District of Columbia,
        • the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
        • Guam,
        • American Samoa,
        • U.S. Virgin Islands,
        • the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands,
        • the Republic of the Marshall Islands,
        • the Federated States of Micronesia, or
        • the Republic of Palau.
      • You must be one of the following six types of organizations:
        1. A library or a parent organization, such as a school district, a municipality, a State agency, or an academic institution, that is responsible for the administration of a library. Eligible libraries include the following:
          • Public libraries;
          • Public elementary and secondary school libraries;
          • College (including community college) and university libraries;
          • Research libraries and archives that are not an integral part of an institution of higher education and that make publicly available library services and materials that are suitable for scholarly research and not otherwise available (Research libraries must be under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian and must be either generally recognized as possessing unique scholarly research materials and services that are made available to the public, or able to demonstrate that such is the case when submitting an application to IMLS.);
          • Private or special libraries that have been deemed eligible to participate in this program by the State in which the library is located.
        2. An academic or administrative unit, such as a graduate school of library and information science that is part of an institution of higher education through which it would make application.
          • Doctoral Programs
            • Only graduate schools of library and information science offering programs of study at the doctoral level are eligible to apply for funding of doctoral level scholarships and fellowships, either individually or collaboratively.
          • Master's Programs
            • Graduate schools of library and information science and graduate schools that provide school library media certification programs are eligible to apply for funds to educate students at the master's level only if they apply in a collaboration that includes one or more eligible library entities. Any of the eligible applicants in the collaboration may serve as the lead applicant.
          • Research
            • For all research projects, except Early Career Development Projects, all eligible entities may apply, either individually or collaboratively.
          • Early Career Development Projects
            • Projects must have a single project director with no co-project directors. Consultants and students may be included in the project.
            • Only tenure-track, untenured faculty in graduate schools of library and information science and graduate school library media education programs that prepare master's and doctoral-level students are eligible to serve as project directors on Early Career Development projects.
            • The project director must hold a doctoral degree and have both educational and research responsibilities.
        3. A digital library, if it makes library materials publicly available and provides library services, including selection, organization, description, reference, and preservation, under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian;
        4. A library agency that is an official agency of a State or other unit of government and is charged by the law governing it with the extension and development of public library services within its jurisdiction;
        5. A library consortium that is a local, statewide, regional, interstate, or international cooperative association of library entities that provides for the systematic and effective coordination of the resources of eligible libraries, as defined above, and information centers that work to improve the services delivered to the clientele of these libraries;
        6. A library association that:
          1. exists on a permanent basis;
          2. serves libraries or library professionals on a national, regional, state, or local level; and
          3. engages in activities designed to advance the well-being of libraries and the library profession.
      • Native American tribal organizations may apply if they otherwise meet the above eligibility requirements.


      • Federally operated libraries and museums may not apply for LB21 grants, but they may participate with applicants.
      • The same proposal may not be submitted to IMLS under more than one project type, project category, or funding category. 
      • The following list includes some examples of generally unallowable costs, both for IMLS funds and for cost share (if applicable), in this grant program.

        • salary substitution for regular employees;
        • fundraising costs, such as development office expenditures or other staff time devoted to general fundraising;
        • general advertising or public relations costs designed solely for promotional activities other than those related to the specific project;
        • contributions to endowments;
        • acquisition of collections;
        • social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment;
        • construction and/or renovation of facilities; and
        • pre-award costs.