US Museums and libraries join forces to boost vaccine confidence

The Association of Science and Technology Centres (ASTC), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) have announced the launch of Communities for Immunity, an unprecedented partnership to boost COVID-19 vaccine confidence in communities across the United States.

This important project launches at a critical moment as the United States is experiencing both a surge in COVID-19 cases related to dangerous new coronavirus variants and an urgent need to dramatically increase vaccination rates. “Throughout the pandemic, our nation’s museums and libraries have supported their communities with critical educational and social services,” said Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “As community pillars and trusted messengers, they are well-positioned to help build trust in and overcome hesitation to the COVID-19 vaccines.”

“IMLS is honoured to join with the CDC and partners ASTC, AAM, ALA, and NNLM on this national program,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “Good information and support at the local level through Communities for Immunity and the ongoing engagement of museums and libraries will strengthen our continued fight against the pandemic.”

“Access to information about vaccines and trusted messengers to effectively convey it locally is a matter of life and death. America’s 117,000 libraries provide both, serving communities at greatest risk of contracting the coronavirus and those most hesitant to receive the vaccine,” said Patty Wong, President of the American Library Association. “The American Library Association is proud to join the Communities for Immunity initiative to offer resources and funding to supercharge the capacity of our nation’s second responders.”

With support from the CDC and IMLS, ASTC will lead Communities for Immunity, which will provide funding to museums, libraries, science centres, and other cultural institutions to enhance vaccine confidence where it matters most: at the local level. Building on the many ways they have supported their communities during the pandemic, the partnership will activate museums and libraries to create and deliver evidence-driven materials and develop resources, programs, and approaches specifically designed to help museums and libraries engage diverse audiences in building trust in the COVID-19 vaccine.

This includes working in partnership with ASTC-member experts on science and community engagement. Museums and libraries will leverage resources and research available on vaccines and variants disseminated by IMLS’s research partnership with OCLC and Battelle, the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) project.

“Museums and libraries are defined by their commitment to serving their communities, and we are honored to support them in doing what they do best: engaging their communities in locally-resonant learning and action to tackle big challenges,” said Christofer Nelson, President and CEO of ASTC. “As an association committed to increasing understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people, we know that now is the time to lean into helping our communities through the science-focused challenge of COVID-19.”

Additional organizations joining in the effort include the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM), and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). This national coalition of partners are creating a Community of Practice to develop and refine vaccine education resources that will be shared with the broader museum and library community.

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