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The MLA Access and Innovation Fund (administered by the Access and Innovation Fund Committee)

The 2023-2024 application cycle has closed. Apply here for emergency requests, then email to let us know you have applied.

The grant proposal process is open year-round to accept emergency requests, but the primary process opens annually on July 1 with the deadline on September 1. The committee makes all award decisions before the annual conference and announces grant recipients at the Awards Ceremony. Funding is distributed between January 1-31

View a recording of the Access and Innovation Fund information session from July 24, 2023. Contact us at for questions.


In 2019 the Missouri Library Association (MLA) was the recipient of an anonymous, donor directed gift of funds "to be used for the limited purpose of promoting library services related to computer/internet access services to library patrons." MLA has developed guidelines for the use of these funds in keeping with the donor's intent. It is our hope and expectation that these funds will assist a number of libraries around the state achieve improved and innovative patron services. With proper oversight, the fund should grow over time to provide even greater levels of assistance. 


To enhance, support, and develop library technologies and innovation that improve patrons' access to library services.


This financial support is broadly interpreted to cover a range of possibilities relating to the purpose of the fund including, but not limited to: hardware, technological equipment, computers, devices, associated and peripheral technologies, bandwidth, wifi, hot spots, software, databases, Ecard programs, Erate funds for underserved or economically disadvantaged areas, training for implementation and use of technologies, marketing of technology focused library services, or furniture and renovation that improves patron access to service. The Grant Committee is particularly interested in funding projects or programs that have the potential to make a significant difference to the community served or that are innovative. 


All libraries in Missouri are eligible to apply. Committees and Communities of Interest in good standing within the Missouri Library Association are also eligible to apply. Individual applications not supported by a Missouri Library or an MLA Committee/Community of Interest will not be accepted. Preference is given to institutional members, and to a lesser extent individual members of the Missouri Library Association. Libraries that have not previously received a grant will be given priority consideration. We utilize the Missouri State Library's LSTA grant eligible library definition for the purpose of this grant program. 


The grant committee endeavors to award multiple grants to multiple libraries. The size of grant awards is expected to be between $500 and $2500, but proposals are accepted for any amount up to $5000. 


  1. All grants are for one-time funding.
  2. Grants may be used for projects incurring ongoing costs, however, this grant program will fund only one proposal for any given project, purchase, or expense. While applicants may apply for a grant in other grant cycles, the proposal must be for a different purpose. Thus, applicants should consider the sustainability of their project in the development of their proposal. 
  3. Grant recipients are expected to expend the majority of funds within one year; all funds must be expended within two years of the initial grant date. 
  4. Grants may be coordinated with LSTA grants. 
  5. Grant applicants need not exhaust all other sources of funding in order to apply. 
  6. Ongoing institutional administrative and overhead charges are not eligible for funding through this program. 


Grantees are required to submit a one page, written report within two years of the initial grant. This report must address the outcomes and impact of their grant, and include a brief outline of actual expenditures. Reports will be added to the MLA Archives and shared broadly with MLA membership. Also, grantees are encouraged to share their experiences in public ways for the benefit of the library community through a conference presentation, publication such as MOInfo, conference table talk, or other venue. 

Publications and presentations resulting from projects funded by an Access and Innovation Fund grant must recognize Missouri Library Association funding. MLA will provide recipients with a high resolution MLA logo and statement to be used for acknowledgement of the MLA funding award. Recipients are to provide MLA with links to any published reports or presentation files available on the web. 


The grant proposal deadline is September 1 annually, and the committee makes all award decisions by the Annual Conference Board Meeting. Funding is distributed between January 1 and 31 of the following year. The review process is designed to complement the LSTA grant cycle so applicants may maximize the benefits of their grants. The committee will consider grant requests for emergency needs that do not align with the grant cycle. 

MLA Access & Innovation Fund 2022-2023

Summary of Awards

To enhance, support, and develop library technologies and innovation that improve patrons’ access to library services. 

Title: Library Laptop Checkout Program 

Institution: Missouri Southern State University - Spiva Library 

Grant Award: $5,000

Project Summary

The Library Laptop Checkout Program would provide laptops and internet service to many students that lack equipment and reliable internet necessary to complete courses. In spring of 2020 courses were moved online due to COVID-19. This move unveiled an inequitable divide for many students who found themselves in need of a computer and reliable internet access. Through the Library Laptop Checkout Program, the library could help bridge the gap for students and help them overcome barriers and to be successful in their academic careers.  

Spiva Library has sought to initiate a Laptop Checkout Program since before the pandemic in order to support the student population that does not have adequate or reliable access to computers or internet. Due to budget constraints and reductions, in 2019 the Library budget was cut by 50%, the Library was unable to fulfill this student need, which was then exacerbated by the pandemic in 2020. During the pandemic the University Information Technology department was able to use a portion of the University’s relief funding to purchase 48 laptops for student usage. IT implemented a lending program in the fall of 2021, half of the computers were used the first semester. During the implementation the IT department struggled with creating a system to checkout, track, and bill students when necessary. 

Since the initial meeting in fall of 2021, the Library and IT continued to meet to discuss what the partnership and transition would look like for all parties involved, students, Library personnel, and IT staff. Funding from the Missouri Library Association Access and Innovation Grant program will be used to expand the laptop program to meet increasing student demand and break barriers to enable students to be as successful as possible. 

Title: Technology Update 

Institution: Worth County Public Library 

Grant Award: $3,839 + two year institutional membership in MLA

Project Summary

There are many citizens of Worth County who do not have access to a computer and printer. Maintaining free access to updated technology is of great importance to the community. The Worth County Public Library is the hub of information services to the community. According to ALA News (8/31/21), libraries are often among the few public places maintaining ready access to the older technology (e.g., copy machines, printers, and fax machines) still needed by many people. The WCPL provides services to anyone regardless of residency, citizenship or income and is a very important resource for the community.

With the help of funding from the Missouri Library Association Access and Innovation Grant program the Worth County Public Library will purchase a new printer. The public library will also purchase two new desktop computers with 8 gig capacity and faster Internet connectivity. The old printer was purchased in 2010 and has long outlasted its expected lifetime. The two computers will replace 10-year-old computers that run much slower and have a smaller gig capacity than the proposed new ones. This equipment will be available for all library patrons and will provide the public more reliable Internet access and fill a need expressed by the library patrons for an updated printer. 

Title: Small Business Incubator for Formerly Incarcerated People 

Institution: St. Louis County Library & St. Louis County Library Foundation 

Grant Award: $3,500

Project Summary

St. Louis County Library’s Reference Department is developing a Small Business Incubator for formerly incarcerated individuals.  It is a 6-month program consisting of a hybrid in-person & online curriculum designed to aid aspiring entrepreneurs in developing their ideas into concrete business plans, learning how to research & create marketing & funding plans, utilize library resources, & make connections with other local organizations that support small business owners.
During the incubator, the cohort of participants will be given Chromebooks, Wi-Fi hotspots, wireless mice, charging cables, & a carrying case for long-term checkout to use for the duration of the 6-month program. These technological tools, in combination with WiFi hotspots that will be supplied to participants, will enable anyone to fully participate in the program, overcoming barriers to access.  Using the Chromebooks they can attend the online sessions, participate in the online curriculum, and also perform essential research as they progress through the incubator and develop their business plans, marketing, and funding strategies. Upon successful completion of the program, cohort participants will get to keep the Chromebook, mouse, & carrying case.

Funding from the Missouri Library Association Access and Innovation Grant program will go toward supporting the laptops and other technological tools for this project.

Title: TechConnect - Hotspots for Community 

Institution: Rolla Public Library 

Grant Award: $5,000

Project Summary

The TechConnect program is intended to serve those without internet access in our community.  Rolla consists of about 20,000 individuals and Phelps County about 40,000.  The library currently has approximately 6,000 cardholders. The program has served area students, homeschool families, area clubs and organizations, the elderly, those with developmental disabilities, our international community, low income residents and the general population as well.

Funding from the Missouri Library Association Access and Innovation Grant program will partially fund continuing service for the current 20 hotspots for 12 months.

Title: Large Format Printer Replacement 

Institution: Kirkwood Public Library 

Grant Award: $4,800.81

Project Summary: 

The Kirkwood Public Library has had a Canon iPF-750 large format printer for the last 10 years. We offer its use to our patrons and use it for in-house library marketing. The printer has been functioning well for the most part of that 10 years with only minor troubleshooting or maintenance needed. Unfortunately, 10 years of use has put a lot of wear on the printer and as of late it has needed more and more troubleshooting. Therefore, we are in need of replacing the printer.

In the past we've had heavy use from teachers in our local school district as well as hobbyists, architects (for structural maps), and clothing designers (for clothes patterns). The printer also offers a means for our library to print in-house marketing material which saves us time and money compared to printing from another business. We also provide use of the printer to other members of our consortium, the Municipal Library Consortium of St. Louis, several of which ask use to help them print marketing materials for their libraries. 

This project is designed to serve members of our community who rely on our services for cost-effective means of printing on a large scale. Funding from the Missouri Library Association Access and Innovation Grant program will fully cover the cost of the printer.


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