On Monday, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced the James Memorial Public Library has been awarded a grant of $6,942 in coronavirus relief funding. The money will be used to help the library offer additional technology needs to the community.
“It will give us a technology boost. We will receive new Wi-Fi access points and five Chromebooks and hotspots,” Library Director Michael Lewis said. He co-wrote the grant with Youth Services Librarian Niki Moen, who added it will be a great help to students in the community without access to technology needs they might need for school.
“(The equipment) is going to be able to be borrowed by patrons. If one of those families wants to do online learning they can check out these Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots,” Moen said. Anyone with access to AT&T towers will be able to get internet through the hotspots, providing they check them out of the library for usage. “If they can get a cell signal, they can get Wi-Fi,” Lewis said.
“Missouri’s libraries are integral to the communities they serve and the resources they offer is vital. These funds help our libraries face the unique obstacles presented by the coronavirus so they can continue offering key services and programs to their patrons,” Ashcroft said.
In addition to the equipment for checkout, the library will also use grant funds to replace its router and switch and add Wi-Fi boosters so it can be extended to the library’s property line. Upgrades will also be made to the library’s website to improve its virtual story time offerings, and for a laptop for staff to use to provide a more flexible workspace.
Funding is being provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and Library Services and Technology funds and are used to address digital inclusion and technical support to help respond to the needs caused by COVID-19.
The Missouri State Library received $554,569 in CARES funds and has contributed an additional $432,800 in the fiscal year 2020 to aid with coronavirus relief projects. Both Moen and Lewis said this funding will be integral in helping provide families meet their technology needs as the return of school draws closer in August. Those interested in checking out a hot spot or Chromebook can drop by the library during regular business hours to learn more. Wi-Fi access is provided for free to the community.