One of 33 such grants in the nation, the three-year grant from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program will allow, among other things, more librarians to attend the week-long Tribal College Librarians Institute (TCLI) at MSU.
"It's the must-attend development institute in North America for librarians serving Native people," said Dean of MSU Libraries Tamara Miller.
The grant will also allow 20 tribal college librarians to attend the 2011 National Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums Conference. The grant will support the Tribal College Librarians Institute during the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012, thus stabilizing funding for the annual event that's organized and supported by MSU Libraries.
"The grant will make all the difference," Miller said.
The summer institute began in 1991 as a service to tribal college librarians in Montana, Miller said. It has since become available to tribal college librarians across North America.
"It is perhaps the most important outreach activity of the MSU Libraries," Miller said.
Mary Anne Hansen, co-coordinator of the Tribal College Librarians Institute with James Thull of MSU, said, "They come to Montana because we are the only professional development opportunity of its kind specifically for tribal college librarians. We are filling a niche for them."
The Tribal College Librarians Institute -- normally held in June -- addresses challenges and needs that the librarians have identified, Hansen said. Tribal college librarians, for example, are often the only librarians in a community, so they act as public librarians, too. Besides handling the academic needs of faculty and students at tribal colleges, they organize summer reading and after-school programs for children and cultural programs where elders teach native skills to young people.
Many tribal college libraries rely on grants, so librarians who attend the institute learn more about writing successful grants, Hansen said. They learn about unique cultural programs they might incorporate.
The Laura Bush grants are awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Laura Bush grants totaled $20.4 million in 2009.
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or email@example.com