State Intellectual Freedom Helpline Grants

General Interest
Intellectual Freedom Helpline Logo

APPLICATION RECEIPT DEADLINE: 11:59pm Eastern on July, 14 2024

Date posted: April 3, 2024

State library and school library association chapters and state library agencies are encouraged to apply to receive a $10,000 grant to establish or bolster a statewide Intellectual Freedom Helpline. The online application is available here.

Questions? Contact the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom at 312-280-4221, or oif@ala.org.

  1. Project Overview

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA OIF) is seeking state library associations or agencies wishing to either establish an Intellectual Freedom Helpline (IFH) in their state or expand upon the organization’s existing efforts to support librarians and educators addressing censorship in their institutions. The proposed initiative could be led by a state or school library association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee or similar working group. 

The goal of this project is to establish a state IFH to operate a confidential reporting system that will help connect those experiencing censorship attempts with professional support, in-state peers, and referral to ALA OIF as appropriate. They will also document reported censorship attempts and share data with ALA OIF for inclusion in ALA’s database of confidential reports documenting censorship attempts nationwide. 

What is an Intellectual Freedom Helpline?

A support network that librarians and educators in your state can turn to for guidance when they’re experiencing attempts to censor materials or services. An IFH is run by trained volunteers who will follow a protocol you establish with guidance from ALA OIF, utilizing a toolkit created and vetted by individuals who have operated Helplines elsewhere. An IFH connects people with the peer support and resources they need to successfully defend their community members’ freedom to read and to stay safe as they do this important work.

Orientation Convening

In addition to operational funding, grant recipients will be able to send IFH volunteer leaders to an in-person training led by ALA OIF staff and subject matter experts during a national convening. The convening of project leaders from the 10 states selected will take place with ALA staff in Chicago, IL, in October (date TBD). Travel expenses and lodging will be covered or reimbursed.

Available Support

  • Access to a dedicated ALA Connect space for IFH peer support
  • IFH toolkit developed and vetted by volunteers who have run successful Helplines
  • Zoom meetings and consultations with OIF staff

Requirements for Recipients

  • Establish protocol for escalating incidents to ALA OIF
  • Report censorship data to ALA OIF
  • Report censorship data to state library association IF Committee (if applicable)
  • Commitment to maintaining the confidentiality of reports received and protecting the privacy and confidentiality of those receiving support
  • Commitment not to provide legal advice
  • Recruit and establish the initial pool of volunteers to manage the IFH and to serve as peer guides for those facing intellectual freedom challenges
  • Develop resources to support the work of peer guides and a workflow for case management
  • Create a system to coordinate documentation of requests received and coordinate pairing support recipients with peer guides
  • Develop sustainability plan for recruitment/training of future volunteers
  • Contribute lessons learned, promising practices, and resources to the shared IFH Toolkit
  • Work within state school and library associations and state library agencies and in collaboration with state/regional/national school and library associations
  • Submit semi-annual reports on IFH activity through the end of 2026
  • Provide feedback on ALA-provided resources so support materials can be improved
  1. Award Information

Ten associations and/or agencies will be selected to receive Intellectual Freedom Helpline grants to establish or expand a state intellectual freedom challenge support system. Award funds must be spent in support, development, and promotion of the project, but cannot be paid out to external parties to do or develop this work on behalf of the organization or agency.

Grant recipients will receive: 

  • $10,000 in August, 2024, to support the development, promotion, and operation of an IF Help Network, during the initial two-year period of operation, and to establish a means to sustain the network over time 
  • Access to a toolkit guiding the work of an IFH and documenting successful strategies and pitfalls
  • Logistical and conceptual support from the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom throughout a two-year period
  1. Eligibility

State library associations, state school library associations, ALA chapters and state library agencies in the United States are eligible to apply. 

A project leader from each selected organization and/or agency must attend an in-person convening at ALA headquarters in Chicago in October 2024 for training and coordination with ALA OIF staff.

Recipients will be required to attend a state or regional conference to present on and promote the work of your IFH. Grant funds can be used to defray any affiliated expenses.

  1. Application and Submission Information

State library associations, school library associations, and state library agencies are encouraged to apply starting in April, 2024. A link to apply and to the application instructions can be found here.

  1. Application Review

Each application will be assessed by a review panel of librarians and ALA staff and evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Clarity and completeness of the application
  • Quality of responses to application questions 
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality of reports received and the identities of individuals and institutions requesting support
  • Capacity to conduct and maintain a state or regional IF Helpline
  • Quality of marketing and outreach plans
  • Demonstration of need
  1. Contact Us

If you have questions about the project or the application, contact the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom at 312-280-4221, or oif@ala.org.

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