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ALA ARP: Immersive Topical Exploration

Press Release



$10,000 Grant Will Help the Library Recover from the Coronavirus Pandemic


Rider University’s Moore Library has been selected as one of 200 libraries nationwide for the American Library Association’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries opportunity, an emergency relief program to assist libraries that have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Rider University will use funds to anchor itself in the community as a strong humanities institution. The competitive award comes with a $10,000 grant that will help the library deliver excellent programs and services related to culture, history, literature, and other humanities subjects.

More than 370 libraries applied for the grant, according to ALA. View the full list of selected libraries.

The participating libraries, selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process, include public libraries, academic/college libraries, K-12 libraries, and tribal, special and prison libraries. The recipients represent 45 states and Puerto Rico and serve communities ranging in size from 642 residents in Weir, Kansas, to the city of Los Angeles. Libraries were chosen with an emphasis on reaching historically underserved and/or rural communities.

Librarian Dr. Sharon Whitfield stated, “The pandemic exacerbated Moore Library’s growing issues to support humanities curriculum through library materials and programming. Yet, the library remains committed to being a supportive place and providing a vehicle for students to engage in out-of-classroom learning experiences. What better place to offer these experiences than the university library, where faculty, staff, and students of all disciplines can come together to engage each other and synergize around important humanities topics. This grant will allow us to continue to offer humanities programming.”

Rider University’s Moore Library will use the grant funds to offer immersive topical exploration in the following areas: Holocaust/Jewish Studies, Black/African American History, the Refugee Experience, the Racial Justice Movement, and Homelessness/the Houseless. Each topical exploration will begin with a virtual reality experience using Oculus headsets. “Our hope is to launch our first topical exploration in April”, said Dr. Whitfield. During the first topical exploration, virtual reality headsets will transport attendees to Anne Frank’s Secret Annex. For more information about the topical exploration of Anne Frank, go to:

“Libraries have faced significant hardships throughout the pandemic —from budget cuts to staff furloughs to building closures — especially in our communities of the greatest need,” said ALA President Patty Wong. “This crucial support from NEH will enable our beloved institutions, and the dedicated people who run them, to rebuild and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.”

American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021."

For more information about the immersive topical experiences, please contact Dr. Sharon Whitfield ( or Prof. Melissa A. Hofmann (