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SDSU Briggs Library receives national grant for small and rural libraries

Picture of the book "What the Eyes Don't See" by Mona Hanna-Attisha
At this spring's 2021 Common Read reveal, Briggs Library gave away 34 copies of "What the Eyes Don't See" by Mona Hanna-Attisha. The library received an American Library Association grant to host community conversations and purchase library materials related to the Common Read book topic.

The South Dakota State University Hilton M. Briggs Library has been selected as one of 300 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities.

The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library facilitate two community conversations with local specialists on the topics of water sustainability and environmental justice.

“It’s exciting to be part of this national grant initiative,” said Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences Librarian Nancy Marshall. “The Libraries Transforming Communities grant benefits the library in several ways. Our conversations will bring together students and other university and community members with campus experts to have meaningful discussions about important issues.”

As part of the grant, participating librarians will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Grant funds will be used for program promotion and to purchase library materials related to the themes of the conversations.

The discussions will be a part of this fall’s SDSU Common Read programming for the book What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hanna-Attisha, which is about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The Common Read initiative is designed to bring together people from all areas of campus and the Brookings community to learn, discuss and engage with a singular, impactful book and associated themes.

The conversations are intended to encourage students and other community members to think about how large-scale environmental issues impact daily life, and that local actions can have global effects. The conversations will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the topics discussed and an appreciation for the complexity of the issues, as well as help them create actionable ideas for individuals and institutions.

Event information will be shared in the Friends of the Library newsletter and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For questions, please contact Briggs Library at or 605-688-5107.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the ALA in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.