Announcing METRO’s Equity in Action 2020-2021 Grant Recipients

METRO is pleased to announce the recipients of funding for our 2020-2021 Equity in Action Grant Program. Each project addresses systemic issues of equity within the library system, uncovers histories of racialized communities and provides support to those in need during this time. The grant period spans from February through November 2021. 

Find the official press release here.

We are very proud and excited to see these projects flourish within the next year. Find the grant recipients and their project description below:


Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library

Through the Change the Subject project, Brooklyn Public Library and The New York Public Library, working with Book Ops, seek to align their public catalogs with their values by identifying and replacing subject headings, including the terms “illegal aliens” and “aliens”, with the less biased terms “undocumented immigrants” and “noncitizens”. Library of Congress authorities that generate these subject headings will be replaced in the NYPL and BPL catalogs with new terminology from local authority records. A public-facing guide on the process will be shared with the profession at large. A series of public events will include screenings of the Change the Subject in order to raise awareness of the challenges inherent in the existing library classification systems and highlight the role library users can play in advocating for reforms. A collections-based curriculum will be written around the project themes for use in the delivery of public library classes after the grant period. A community engagement process led by THE CITY, an independent, NYC-based nonprofit newsroom, will enable the partners to better understand how library staff and patrons feel about classification language used in the library catalog.


Bronx Community College and Mutual Aid NYC (MANYC)

The Bronx Community College (BCC) Archives and Mutual Aid NYC (MANYC) will collaboratively develop an Organizing Resource Library (ORL) to preserve and make openly available materials from mutual aid work in marginalized communities across NYC that were devastated during the COVID-19 crisis, and whose stories are at significant risk of being lost. The ORL will be a free and fully accessible digital library and an archive of mutual aid organizing tools—created for, by, and in collaboration with mutual aid organizers in New York City. These tools will include toolkits, guides, templates, and a robust array of materials developed during the COVID-19 crisis that will be made available to organizers, while also preserving documentation of mutual aid work for scholars and activists.


Pratt Institute School of Information and Weeksville Heritage Center

Linking Lost Jazz Shrines (LLJS) is an ongoing collaboration between the Weeksville Heritage Center and the Semantic Lab at Pratt Institute to investigate the application of linked open data technologies to the Weeksville Lost Jazz Shrines of Brooklyn (WLJSB) oral history collection. This rich collection documents Central Brooklyn’s cultural legacy of jazz history between the 1930s and 1960s. The primary aim of the project is to make the WLJSB archival collection more discoverable and accessible to researchers and the general public alike. The project also enriches and expands the existing network of jazz musicians developed by the Linked Jazz Project with an infusion of influential, yet lesser-known artists and the venues where they performed. The project has the potential to serve as a roadmap for similar projects aimed at transforming textual archival documents and other materials into linked data. The initial phase of the LLJS project was conducted from January 2019 through August 2020 with generous support from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s “Collections as Data: Part to Whole” grant program. In 2020, the LLJS project received the A.R.T.’s New York Archives Archival Achievement award.


Mina Rees Library (CUNY)

The CUNY Digital History Archive (CDHA) is grateful to receive a Metro Equity in Action grant to support the digitization and curation of historical materials documenting three movements to make access to public higher education more equitable toward and inclusive of New York’s diverse residents.  Based at the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) since 2014, the CDHA, established in 2011, is a community curated digital public archive and portal that provides scholars, students and the broader public online access to archival materials related to the history of CUNY, the nation’s largest public university system. Working under the direction of Professor Stephen Brier, the CDHA will hire three doctoral students to select documents, create metadata, and add descriptive materials to make accessible collections related to: 1) the efforts in the late 1960s of African American residents in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood to push CUNY to found a new public college in their community; 2) the movement to found a Puerto Rican Studies Program at Brooklyn College in the early 1970s; and 3) the activities of SLAM! (Student Liberation Action Movement), a group of CUNY student activists in the 1990s, that fought for increased public funding for CUNY.  The new materials will become accessible via the CDHA website ( by Fall 2021.