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A call for funding applications!

October 29, 2019

We are inviting public libraries across British Columbia to apply for funding to support programming exploring the role of libraries in democratic engagement in three thematic areas: climate change, social isolation, and local solutions.

The grants will support costs related to designing programming or making programming more accessible for under-served communities. The grants will also support libraries to administer and submit back evaluation data to the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Results will be compiled and shared publicly to increase awareness and support for diverse democratic engagement opportunities. Libraries are expected to provide some core funding to encourage the development of sustainable programming.

The themes and process were designed through a partnership between the BC Libraries Cooperative and the Simon Fraser University Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue’s Strengthening Canadian Democracy Initiative, working with advisory members from the Fraser Valley Regional Library, Burnaby Public Library and the BC Library Association.

The Opportunity

Between Fall 2019 and May 2020, public libraries across British Columbia are invited to propose and pilot programs for democratic convening, evaluate their impact, and exchange good practices with their peers. Eligible applicants are public libraries from the 71 library systems in British Columbia.

Up to 15 “micro” grants of $1000 are available to support costs related to staff time for design, accessibility, and program evaluation. These grants will be dispersed among libraries across BC. A session will also be held at the 2020 BC Library Association Conference for participating libraries to share their programming ideas, best practices, and key learnings for future democratic convening programs.

The Requirements

Public library programs will fall under one of the three themes. These theme areas will develop into communities of practice for the BCLA Conference session in April, 2020.

Climate Change – As significant social infrastructure, libraries will be at the forefront in addressing the effects of climate change among their communities and especially under-served groups. This theme encourages libraries to envision the future with their patrons and develop local engagement on the topic.

Social Isolation – At the 2019 BCLA Conference, a major theme discussed among participants was the role of libraries in combating social isolation. This theme encourages libraries to bring groups together and build new interpersonal relationships; embodying solutions to these challenges.

Local Solutions – Libraries are uniquely situated to support the specific needs of their local constituents. This theme encourages libraries to take on topics at the core of their local communities and co-develop actionable solutions with their participants.

The programming should also meet the following criteria:

  • Held between December 2019 and May 2020
  • Convene the community in ways that lead to tangible, face-to-face, community action
  • The development of the programming can include co-development with community members.
  • The program should include a minimum of 6 hours of engagement with the public. The 6 hours can be over one or several sessions.
  • Staff time ought to be dedicated to developing the program and coordinating evaluation.
  • A library staff representing their project must attend the BCLA Conference in April 2020, or be able to video conference into the session at the conference.

In addition to addressing the topics of climate change, social isolation or local solutions, the programming should also have the following goals:

  • Build social connections among participants and their local community
  • Increase participants’ sense of agency through experiential, solutions-oriented activities (even where impacts may be small or incremental)


Successful applicants are expected to assist in coordinating evaluations of their programs conducted by the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Staff time should be dedicated to coordinating these evaluations, and data collected must be submitted by June 30, 2020.

Low Barrier Application Process

To encourage participation, we have arranged for the following low-barrier application process:

  1. Please visit the grant application page and fill out the online form.
  2. Applicants will receive a follow-up phone call to discuss their ideas and confirm their eligibility.
  3. Formal paperwork will only take place once the intention to award a grant has been confirmed.

Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis and awardees will be selected based on the criteria above with some consideration for the library’s geographic location to ensure opportunities for programming across the province. Applications must be submitted by December 2nd, 2019.

Eligible expenses include staff time. Libraries are expected to provide core funding for any programming expenses.

After programming, the submission of evaluation data will release grant funds.

For more information, please send us a message through our contact us page or call 1-855-383-5761 ext. 1004 to reach our microgrant coordinator.