Athol Public Library awarded $10K federal grant for nature-based programming

  • Athol Public Library FILE PHOTO

Staff Report
Published: 7/21/2021 1:48:00 PM
Modified: 7/21/2021 1:48:06 PM

At its July 8 Board meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded $350,410 in 35 grants to public and special libraries across the Commonwealth under the Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), which is funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Athol Public Library was awarded $10,000 for “Dig In!: Growing Libraries with Gardens and Nature-Based Learning Spaces”.

“LSTA funds help us bring innovative programs to our library’s patrons,” said library director Jean Shaughnessy. “We are excited to expand our programming with these funds to provide educational opportunities for the town.”

This nature-based programming opportunity will make use of the library’s park area, one of the few green spaces in downtown Athol. This project will use this space, which includes a river walkway, amphitheater area, a Monarch butterfly waystation, and gardens, to offer activities, hands-on learning and health, nutrition and nature-based programs for all ages and abilities. This grant will also provide greater opportunity to collaborate with other community organizations, strengthen relationships with downtown neighbors, and build connections that create a sense of belonging and well-being.

“This past year has shown us the importance of libraries to the communities they serve,” said Robert Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC. “These grants allow libraries to address specific local needs. They demonstrate libraries’ commitment to serve all members of their communities, to education at any age, and to make local history accessible to everyone.”

In addition to the direct library grant program, the MBLC uses LSTA funds to support statewide programs and services including summer reading programs, research databases, the statewide eBook program, the Commonwealth Catalog and, which has information and resources for residents. LSTA is administered on the federal level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in the Commonwealth by the MBLC. More information about LSTA can be found on the Board’s website at

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS’ grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit

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