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UNT Received Grant to Assist Rural Libraries

May 11, 2010

Denton (UNT), Texas -- The UNT Department of Library and Information Sciences has received a major grant from the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust to assist rural public libraries in Texas.  Funding from the Priddy Trust in the amount of $1,599,222 will support a three-year project, Promoting & Enhancing the Advancement of Rural Libraries (PEARL).  The goal of the project is to enhance the role of public libraries in targeted rural communities in Texas.

 "Public libraries in rural communities are facing enormous challenges," said Dr. Yunfei Du, the Principal Investigator for the project.  "They are experiencing an increase in demand for services while simultaneously dealing with declining tax bases, lack of an educated workforce, decreasing funding, and an aging population."

"Public libraries are often an under-appreciated and under-utilized resource in rural communities," said Dr. Herman L. Totten, Dean of the UNT College of Information and director of the project.  "To address this problem, libraries need to take a leadership role in creating effective partnerships with local organizations, government agencies and social institutions in order to meet the demands of the range of library users they serve."

The PEARL project will assist approximately 105 targeted rural libraries to create a Community Outreach Plan and train library staff in the use of the plan.  The project will also create a resource center website, develop an actual and virtual community for peer interaction among rural librarians, and provide two annual workshops for participating librarians along with two annual forums.  The project also provides funding for five graduate students to earn a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) with an emphasis in rural librarianship.

The three year project will address the roles of the small rural library as a community resource, a gathering place for people and as a facilitator for community partnerships. In addition, it will provide avenues of library training and peer interaction for rural library staff. The project will assess how this collaborative model for community outreach enhances the effectiveness of rural library service in Texas.

The Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust, in Wichita Falls, Texas was established in 2001.  The Priddy Charitable Trust has focused on Liberal Arts Education, Pre-K-12 Public Education, Community Healthcare, and Rural Public Libraries.  The Trust makes significant grant awards that enable people to make positive changes in their lives and their communities.

For more information please contact Dr. Yunfei Du, Associate Professor. E-mail address: yunfei.du@unt.edu