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WVU Potomac State College Library receives National Grant

the front exterior face of the Mary F. Shipper Library, with large text reading "Mary F. Shipper Library" installed on it

The Mary F. Shipper Library at WVU Potomac State College has been selected as one of 310 libraries to participate in round two of Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that provides community engagement and accessibility resources to small and rural libraries to help them better serve people with disabilities.

The competitive award comes with a $10,000 grant that will help the library improve physical access to the library. While the Mary F. Shipper Library has several collections and displays of interest related to arts, culture, and history, it is not always easy for older community members or visitors to the area to access the building which was constructed prior to the passage of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990.

 “We are so proud to be chosen for this amazing opportunity,” said Library Director Nicholas Gardner. “This grant will allow our library to get to know our residents with disabilities better. It will help us improve our services to ensure this population feels welcome and comfortable in our space.”

As part of the grant, the Mary F. Shipper Library staff will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today. Staff will offer two opportunities for employees, students, and community members to share concerns and thoughts about physical access to the library and campus and use the grant funds to make improvements to these areas based on community feedback.

The first such conversation will be held Wednesday, April 10, at 5 p.m. and the second on Saturday, April 20, at 10 a.m. The conversations will be offered as hybrid events, where people can opt to physically attend the discussion in Room G6, on the library’s ground floor (accessible parking is available behind the Science Hall parking lot) or virtually, via Zoom. To attend via Zoom, please visit the library’s online calendar and register for the event at

If you are interested in getting involved or taking part in the conversation, please contact Gardner at or 304-788-6901, or visit for more information.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL).