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Accelerating Promising Practices for Small and Rural Libraries (APP) Program Report

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)’s Accelerating Promising Practices for Small and Rural Libraries (APP) program was designed to support libraries serving smaller and more rural communities as they develop community-prioritized services that would document community histories, advance digital inclusion of residents, and transform school-based libraries into centers of learning. The program is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize libraries as hubs of community culture, advanced innovation, civic engagement, and lifelong learning. The APP program ran from 2019-2023, with TCC Group serving as the evaluator for this national initiative.

TCC Group partnered with IMLS, mentor organizations, and the participating small and rural libraries to understand multi-level outcomes of the program (at the individual, organizational, and community levels) and to answer the following questions through the evaluation:

1. Interventions What capacity-building interventions were provided for the grantees and how effective were they? What was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on programming?
2. Impact on Libraries & Librarians What impact did participation in the APP program have on the participating libraries and librarians?
3. Impact on Projects

What was the impact of capacity building on the libraries’ IMLS-funded projects?

·    What knowledge, skills, and experience were gained?

·    To what extent were libraries able to connect to and be supported by a larger network of libraries?

·    To what extent do libraries see their role as central facilitators of community knowledge?

·    What was the experience like for APP participants?


Organizations and


To what extent did the APP libraries’ organizations and communities support their project ideas and efforts, and what impact did the APP program have on the organizations and communities?
5. Cohort-Mentor Model What are the overall takeaways on the cohort-mentor model of capacity building for small and rural libraries?

We hope this report will be helpful to funders of libraries and/or of capacity-building efforts, library and community leaders, capacity-building implementers and mentors, evaluators, and those focused on work in the areas of community memory, digital inclusion, and the transformation of school-based libraries. If you have any questions about this report, please contact Lisa Frantzen, Associate Director, Evaluation and Learning at

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