Library of Congress Enriches America’s Story by Connecting with Minority Communities, Funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Library of Congress Enriches America’s Story by Connecting with Minority Communities, Funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant

The Library of Congress today announced a new, multiyear initiative to connect more deeply with Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and other minority communities by expanding its collections, using technology to enable storytelling and offering more internship and fellowship opportunities, supported by a $15 million investment from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The new initiative, Of the People: Widening the Path, creates new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library and add their perspectives to the Library’s collections, allowing the national library to share a more inclusive American story. This work will expand the Library’s efforts to ensure that a diversity of experiences is reflected in our historical record and inform how we use those materials to understand our past. 

The initiative will be accomplished through three programs: investing in community-based documentarians who will expand the Library’s collections with new perspectives; funding paid internships and fellowships to benefit from the wisdom of students and engage the next generation of diverse librarians, archivists and knowledge workers; and creating a range of digital engagements with Library collections with underserved communities and institutions.  

“The Mellon Foundation’s generous grant will enhance the Library’s efforts to develop deeper and mutually empowering relationships with those who are too often left out of the American story,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “By inviting communities of color and other underrepresented groups to partner on a wider, more inclusive path for connection to the Library of Congress, we invest in an enduring legacy of the multifaceted American story that truly is ‘Of the People.’”

The new initiative is part of a larger vision at the Library to connect with all Americans by inviting new generations to participate in creating, preserving and sharing the nation’s cultural treasures and building on the Library’s commitment to collect and preserve more underrepresented perspectives and experiences.

The $15 million invested by the Mellon Foundation in the Of the People initiative represents the largest grant from a private foundation in the Library’s history and is among the largest grants that the foundation awarded in its 2020 cycle.

“We are proud to support Carla Hayden and the Of the People initiative as the Library of Congress envisions and implements new ways to connect all Americans with its unparalleled resources,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “The Library of Congress is the people’s public library, and we are delighted that it will engage diverse and inclusive public participation in expanding our country’s historical and creative records.” 

News, stories and opportunities related to the initiative will be shared on a new blog related to this new initiative in the months and years ahead. Subscribe for updates at

The Of the People initiative accomplishes these objectives through three programs: community documentarians working with the American Folklife Center; internships and fellowships for students from minority-serving institutions; and a digital futures program that combines the power of technology with the Library’s digital collections to help communities engage with the Library in ways that have never before been possible...

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