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NorthJersey.com

When the American Rescue Plan Act passed last month, it provided $200 million for libraries across the country, with New Jersey slated to receive $3.9 million.

Now, the New Jersey State Library  is asking librarians around the state what their needs are.

As of this week, which is National Library Week, state librarian Jen Nelson has gotten responses from more than 50 libraries. She said libraries can email her at jnelson@njstatelib.org.

“I got a really good sense of what the needs are,” Nelson said. “What I have less of a sense of in this is how we can use these funds to support some of the needs that have been identified, so we are still in the planning process.”

Nelson said when the money is available, it will probably go to fund libraries that do work pertaining to digital equity, digital inclusion and technology access.

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the federal agency responsible for distributing the money, also issued guidelines for how the funding should be used by libraries:

  • Enable libraries to reach residents with internet hot spots, accessible Wi-Fi and other digital inclusion efforts, particularly in support of education, health and workforce development
  • Provide rapid emergency relief to libraries across the country, allowing them to safely respond to the pandemic and implement other public health protocols
  • Support library services that meet the needs of communities in their state, including costs such as personnel, technology, training, materials, supplies, equipment and associated indirect costs

There is also $165,000 available from the CARES Act in the form of mini-grants in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 that can be used for libraries to improve access to technology for customers. Libraries can apply for the grants by April 19.

Ricardo Kaulessar is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: kaulessar@northjersey.com

Twitter: @ricardokaul 

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