January 17, 2014

IMLS Press Contact
Giuliana Bullard gbullard@imls.gov

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today released the results of an independent study of its Laura Bush 21st (LB21) Century Librarian Program. IMLS launched the LB21 grant program in 2003 to support projects that recruit and educate a new generation of librarians, faculty, and library leaders, and to support research about the library services field. Since the program’s inception, IMLS has awarded 369 LB21 grants totaling $198,999,539 for library and information science (LIS) education, professional development of library staff, research, and institutional capacity building.

The research project was conducted by ICF International using a qualitative comparative case study approach. The project compared over 109 grants awarded from 2003 to 2009 across six LB21 funding categories: master’s level programs, doctoral programs, early faculty career development, continuing education ventures, institutional support endeavors, and research on the LIS field.

The goal of the evaluation was to monitor effects on program participants, grantee institutions and organizations, and to identify project characteristics correlated with sustainability. Below are several themes that emerged from the qualitative evaluation.

  • The program provided an impetus for LIS departments to develop new strategies for student outreach, to establish cohort training models, and to develop new courses that helped broadened the educational experience.
  • Formalized mentoring programs and professional development opportunities, such as conferences and workshops, were identified as important contributors to student success.
  • Partnerships with minority serving organizations and a more personalized approach to recruitment were identified as contributors to successful diversity recruitment projects.
  • Project directors reported that 48 percent of the projects were sustained either fully or partially after the grant period, with many LIS departments adopting curriculum or policy changes as part of their formal programs.

ICF provided a number of recommendations to assist IMLS in program development and planning, including:

  • modifying program reporting to improve usability of the information and to make it easier to report program impacts beyond the performance period;
  • creating better communication mechanisms for sharing knowledge gained from past projects; and
  • leveraging social media to support stronger networks among project participants.

The report and the appendices containing more details on the methodology and data are available on the IMLS website.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program