After nearly 15 months of pandemic-related closures and looming budget shortfalls, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed into law on March 11, 2021, is bringing much needed relief for American libraries.
ARPA provides multiple funding avenues for libraries of all kinds. As of May 10, 2021, the U.S. treasury outlined categories of eligible uses of ARPA funding. There are seven categories total, and of those, there are four categories that libraries can identify with when applying for use of these funds.
The first two categories are: supporting the public health response and providing premium pay for essential workers. Another category is serving the hardest-hit communities and families. This is intended to address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The last category is investing in broadband infrastructure. With this, libraries can assist households in obtaining access to the internet and gaining digital literacy. It is legislators hope that this act will be an appropriate response to the public health and negative economic impact of the pandemic.
$200 million for IMLS
ARPA includes $178 million in funding for state library administrative agencies through the Library Services and Technology Act. This money will be distributed to individual states through The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) on a population-based formula.
The minimum allocation is $2 million, which means even small states will receive a significant benefit. (Find out how much is allocated for your state here.) State library agencies will decide how this money is spent, so make sure your local agency is aware of your library’s needs.
$7.5 billion for Emergency Connectivity Fund
Libraries are eligible to receive 100% reimbursement for the cost of modems, routers, hotspots, and Wi-Fi capable devices purchased to be loaned to patrons. According to law, the FCC must develop the rules for this program by May 10, 2021. Stay tuned.
$360 billion for state and local governments
This emergency assistance is intended to offset potential cuts to public services, including public libraries. Approximately 60% will go to states, with the remaining 40% going directly to local governments.
Additional library funding is available through the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities as well as numerous education-specific programs for school libraries.
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