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Mellon Foundation to Fund Diversity Programs at Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress is launching an initiative to expand its collection, promote the diversity of future librarians and archivists, and make it easier for members of minority groups to search the library’s digital archives.

The program will be launched over the next four years and will receive a $ 15 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This is part of a relocation of the foundation towards the award of arts and humanities grants through a so-called “lens for social justice”. ”

The library described the move titled “From the People: Widening the Path” as part of a larger plan to help the institution by building on a commitment to gathering and maintaining more “underrepresented perspectives and experiences,” it says in a press release and invite new generations to participate in the creation and exchange of important cultural materials.

In doing so, “we are investing in an enduring legacy of multi-faceted American history that is truly” Of The People, “said Carla Hayden, Congress Librarian, in a statement.

The initiative is carried out in three ways – through the library’s American Folklife Center, through contacting students at universities and colleges, and through grants to cultural heritage institutions.

The Folklife Center will have grants to produce ethnographic documentation of contemporary cultural activities among people whose experiences may otherwise not be recorded on national records. (Comprising decades of written records, oral lore, and video segments, the center is designed to document, among other things, “the songs, stories, and other creative expressions of people from different communities.”)

In addition, the library will expand the reach of students at tribal and historically black colleges and universities and participate in institutions and programs that serve Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders, and provide internshipsdevelop a new generation of diverse talent for heritage organizations, ”the press release said.

The library will also grant grants to cultural heritage institutions This will encourage people to incorporate material from their digital collections into works like photo collages, new music, and digital exhibits that explore experiences among people of color.

“The Library of Congress is the people’s public library and we are delighted that it will bring about diverse and extensive public participation in expanding our nation’s historical and creative records,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander in a Explanation.

Last summer, the Foundation, the largest humanities philanthropy in the United States, announced that it was increasing its focus on granting grants for programs that promote social justice.

One such program is to spend $ 5.3 million on what Alexander calls “liberty libraries.” These are 500 book collections of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and other writings that are being sent to 1,000 prisons across the country.

Then, in October, the foundation announced its $ 250 million monuments project, designed to help rethink the country’s approach to monuments and memorials to better reflect the diversity of the nation.

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Robert Dunfee