The Rochester Public Library District has been selected as one of 240 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities, an American Library Association initiative that provides community engagement and accessibility resources to small and rural libraries to help them better serve people with disabilities.

The competitive award comes with a $20,000 grant that will help the library shorten the divide by enabling us to liaison with the schools and the senior living communities by adding technology and equipment to help with long-term and short-term disabilities by placing the equipment where it would be easily accessible.

“We are so excited for the residents of Rochester and the difference this project will make in their lives,” says the library youth services director. “We are proud of our ability to work with other important members of our community to bring life-improving equipment that will be easily accessible as well as making the library a more welcoming place for all its patrons.”

As part of the grant, Rochester Public Library District staff will take an online course on leading conversations, a skill vital to library work today. In conjunction with Rochester CUSD3A schools and Carriage Crossing senior living, Rochester Library will then host a conversation in person and via Facebook Live and Zoom with residents about the wisest use of the grant funds. The staff will describe the project and ask what equipment will most significantly serve the community.

Distance and lack of sidewalks create barriers for school children and seniors to patronize the library. Placing the needed equipment in the schools allows students to get the help they need faster and return to learning. Many seniors in the assisted living village have macular degeneration and must rely on other to be transported to the library. By providing equipment to the senior village, the residents can walk or wheel themselves down to the entertainment room to use the low-vision computer and other equipment.

Anyone interested in getting involved or participating in the conversation, contact Denise Rainford at or visit for more information.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.