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Central Washington University

American Library Association Grant to Support CWU Libraries Programs

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Central Washington University Libraries was awarded a $3,000 grant this month through the American Library Association’s Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries initiative. 

CWU is among 317 local school and community libraries from across the U.S. to receive the ALA grant, which was available to communities with populations of less than 25,000. The Libraries Transforming Communities initiative was introduced in 2014, and was expecting to provide a total of nearly $2 million in grants in 2020 and 2021. 

The grant program is intended to support local library efforts to engage and educate people in their communities, specifically regarding prominent current topics such as the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health, public land use, climate issues and Black history. 

CWU Libraries will use the funds to support its quarterly Cultural Conversations program, which is co-sponsored by the Ellensburg Public Library and CWU’s Office for International Student Programs.

The program provides students, staff, faculty, and community members with an opportunity to hear stories from cultures they might not otherwise have encountered, alongside facilitated discussions to practice empathetic listening and speaking. The series has featured storytellers from CWU’s student body, as well as members of the faculty and the surrounding community.

A portion of the grant money will be used by the library to acquire books relevant to each speaker’s topic and culture, a number of which will be given to attendees at each event. The next Cultural Conversation will be held Tuesday, May 4, at noon, and will feature CWU alumna Keiko Walsh. 

Walsh’s story will focus on her native Japan, as well as her journey to a degree from CWU in Food Service Management. 

The Zoom meeting is open to the public, and can be accessed via the event’s website. To learn more about the event, email Maureen Rust at

Media contact: Rune Torgersen, Department of Public Affairs,

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