Libraries Take on Cybersecurity

Seven Massachusetts public libraries have been awarded Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness grants from the state to “help local government to improve overall cybersecurity posture through end-user training, evaluation and threat simulation.” The program is overseen by the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTTS) and the Office of Municipal and School Technology (OMST).

Each municipality that receives the grant trains staff to recognize and thwart cyber-attacks to keep library and municipal infrastructure safe. In total, 121 staff across the Commonwealth will be trained.

“Last fall, we were very excited to discover that this grant program is available not just to municipalities and schools, but also directly to libraries and even to the automated resource sharing networks.”, commented MBLC’s Paul Kissman, Library Information Systems Specialist.  “Libraries are recognizing that they must take proactive measures to reduce the risk of, and be prepared to recover from, a cyber-attack.  Along with resources provided by MassCyberCenter, especially the ‘Minimum Baseline of Cybersecurity for Municipalities,’ libraries can begin to get a handle what otherwise might feel like an overwhelming task.”

The Forbes Library in Northampton is training 20 members of its staff. Director Lisa Downing says, “We are participating because cybersecurity risks are not a matter of if but when,” adding that the library is “requiring all of our regular staff to complete 2 assessments and 4 assignments.”

The assignments take about an hour to complete, and the assessments take an additional five to ten minutes. Forbes is asking the staff to complete one assignment a month and will offer meetings for staff to talk about cybersecurity in relation to the library and to ask any questions they may have. As an incentive for the training, all staff that participate are being entered into a drawing for a gift card. Downing says, “We are already hearing from staff that they have a better understanding of the risks and best practices which makes not only our employees safer from attack but also our library, our patrons, and our network.”

For more information about the Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness Grant Program, visit the EOTTS website.

Nine Massachusetts Libraries Receive ALA Grant

The American Library Association (ALA) recently announced the recipients of the Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant. Nine Massachusetts libraries were included in the second round of grantees.

The libraries include:

Belding Memorial Library Ashfield
Field Memorial Library Conway
Millbury Public Library Millbury
Sargent Memorial Library Boxborough
Dighton Public Library Dighton
Town of Southborough Southborough
Scituate Town Library Scituate
Elizabeth Taber Library Marion
Whelden Memorial Library West Barnstable

Participating libraries receive training in how to lead conversations through an ALA e-course on basic facilitation skills; host at least one conversation (in-person or virtual) with community members on a chosen topic; and receive $3,000 to support community engagement efforts. Grant funds may cover a range of expenses, including staff time and collections and technology purchases.

You can read more about the project in this press release.

Age-Friendly Funding Alert: 2020 AARP Community Challenge

By the Mass Healthy Aging Collaborative and AARP

The application period for the 2020 AARP Community Challenge is open!

The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund “quick-action” projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Applications are being accepted for projects to improve housing, transportation, public space, technology (“smart cities”), civic engagement and more.

Please visit the grant webpage here for eligibility info and other details and the following downloadable materials before starting the application process. When ready, select the “Apply” button to register for the 2020 AARP Community Challenge.


Important Dates

  • April 1, 2020: Applications are due by 11:59 pm (ET)
  • May 26, 2020: Applicants will be notified of their status this week
  • July 15, 2020: The selected grantees will be announced to the public — and the project work can begin — on or around this date
  • November 9, 2020: All funded projects must be completed
  • December 11, 2020: Deadline for after-action reports