The Nebraska Library Commission announced the availability of non-competitive formula grants provided with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Federal Stimulus Bill passed by Congress in March 2021. From ARPA, NLC received a one-time award of $2,422,166, of which $1,425,000 has been allocated for non-competitive formula grants. Spalding Public Library applied for the grant, and was awarded some much needed funding. The purpose of ARPA is the recovery and to increase health protocols during and subsequent to COVID-19. Spalding Public Library sincerely and gratefully thanks IMLS’s support in all of our products purchased through this grant.Like surrounding rural communities, Spalding’s community has been severely impacted by COVID-19. Our schools and church closures, along with businesses restricting the number of customers allowed inside at any given time, caused significant negative impact on, and currently, unemployment, overall life satisfaction, mental health, and economic outlook. Local businesses are still trying to find enough staff to keep their doors open. Our community and the library’s board and staff, to respond to the pandemic, has set a goal to improve Spalding Public Library’s overall (general) library operations, streamline its functions and expand its services. Grant funds were allocated for this project. Our library board and staff saw a need to improve our overall library operations by providing a healthier and improved space used by our patrons. Three new ceiling fans were purchased from this funding, to increase airflow and ventilation in the library, in response to help with the pandemic. Funding was also allocated for the replacement of seven broken light fixtures in the library. Patrons have noticed the brighter lighting and are pleased with easier reading of book titles on the shelves. The library also had a need for replacement of: a rolling cart; an office chair for better comfort level of staff; eight adult chairs for use with the existing conference table; twelve student chairs for use with activity tables; and two student multi-age activity tables; as the existing furniture is 25 years old and in poor repair. The library is increasing the use of materials since people are returning to the library, and the cart serves the essential function of allowing staff to better organize and maintain greater efficiency in returning items to the shelves and in transporting returned items and materials. It also allows patrons to browse the returned items on the cart before they make it back to the shelves. General library operations are improved with the new furniture, which is easier to clean and offers greater functionality. Grant funds were allocated for the purchase of signage for our bookshelves to assist patrons in finding resources without the need to always interact with staff (although we also like the interaction). Also, we purchased book jacket covers to extend the life of the books, and checkout cards and pockets for additional materials that have been purchased or are used in our library. The library is trying to make changes post-pandemic to increase foot traffic into the library, as well as improve the overall comfort of our library space. This will likely affect our desired outcome of increasing the overall numbers of patrons using the indoor spaces and meeting room. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s Museums, libraries and related organizations through grant making, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
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