Libraries Are Vital Community Spaces (And, They Need to Change) | Mellon Foundation

The Radical Librarianship Institute and Community Press seeks to train librarians of the future to be agents of inclusion and change. In time for National Arts and Humanities Month, we interviewed its director, Robert Montoya.

Libraries are crucial places for knowledge and information access, and increasingly offer critical social and civic services like voter registration, citizenship and language classes, and more. Yet, many people are left out or overlooked—whether they live in a place without a local library or do not have their interests represented in the collections. Mellon awarded a $1.25 million grant to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for the Radical Librarianship Institute and Community Press to not just better meet these needs, but shift the idea of what a library—and a librarian—can be. 

The Institute is focused on reimagining a conventional librarian curriculum and forming a new certificate training program, which will be open to librarians from across the country. Also part of this initiative is a community press that puts the power of publishing and bookmaking in the hands of people who live in these libraries’ communities. The first iteration of the certificate training program is planned for August 2023.