Keene Public Library has been selected as one of 200 libraries to participate in the Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries initiative of the American Library Association (ALA). The goal of the program is to help library workers better serve their small and rural communities.

The award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library lead a community discussion on racial and social justice topics. The library will host book and film discussions and offer other events to bring people together to discuss these issues.

More than 300 libraries applied for the grant, according to ALA. Eight New Hampshire libraries won grants, including Jaffrey Public Library, James A. Tuttle Library in Antrim and Peterborough Town Library.

“We are so proud to be chosen for this amazing opportunity,” said Gail Zachariah, head of Engagement and Youth Services at the Keene Public Library. “This grant will allow our library to get to know our residents better and help us build a happier and healthier community for our families.”

As part of the grant, Keene Public Library staff and volunteers will take an online course to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Then KPL staff will host a series of discussions with residents about racial and social justice. The library will use the grant funds to purchase WiFi hotspots to make these conversations more accessible to the community.

“We invite our community to have courageous conversations about race, political violence, and power in institutions. Books and literature can be powerful tools to spark conversation, build empathy, and promote healing, transformation and change,” said Zachariah.

For more information, contact Zachariah at 352-0157 or gzachariah@ci.keene.nh.us.