Last week, Jennifer mentioned the department of agriculture’s recent announcement about $100 million in grants and loans for rural libraries. I wanted to know a bit more about the program, so checked into it a little bit more. Here’s what I found.
· The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has designated approximately $100 million in grants and loans (texas state library blog says they’ve learned it’s mostly loans and “a much smaller number of grants”) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to support public libraries in rural areas or small towns. Loans can be repaid over 40 years, and are available to institutions who can’t otherwise get credit.
· Definition of rural is serving under 20,000 (similar to WJ definition of a small/rural library serving < 25,000).
· Administered through the Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Programs, the funds will support the construction, enlargement, or improvement of public library facilities along with the purchase of facility equipment.
· Depending on funding availability, RD plans to provide up to $500,000 in additional grant funds to each State Office through the Community Facilities American Recovery Reinvestment Act grant account for library projects.
· Funds may be used for costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees, and purchase equipment required for a facility’s operation. Funds can be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment, and bookmobiles.
· Applications will be accepted through the USDA Rural Development regional field offices (different for every state) http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs
· Community Facilities Grants are authorized on a graduated scale. Applicants located in smaller communities with low populations and low incomes will receive a higher percentage of grants. Grant funding limitations are based on population and income, economic feasibility, and availability of funds
Links to more info
· USDA fact sheet on the program (PDF): http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/USDA.pdf
· ALA Washington Office press release: http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2010/january2010/usdadesignates_wo.cfm
The Secretary of Agriculture has allocated $100 million in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities funding for public libraries to provide educational opportunities and improve public services in rural communities. The funding will be provided primarily through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In 78 percent of rural communities, the library is the sole provider of no-fee Internet access,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said. “This funding specifically set aside for rural libraries is a lifeline for communities across the country who depend on their local libraries for basic needs such as Internet access as well as assistance with e-government services, literacy and homework programs, and much more. We thank the USDA for its recognition of the vital role libraries play in rural communities and their need for funding.” Funds may be used to construct, enlarge or improve public libraries. This can include costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees and purchase equipment required for operation. Funds can be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment and bookmobiles.
· Association for Small & Rural Libraries re-posted fact sheet information on their grants section: http://www.arsl.info/links/grant-news/usda-funds/
Selected blog mentions
These posts mostly repost the info; a few other state libraries, systems, or associations posted as well but this gives you a good sense for who picked it up.
· Marshall Breeding: http://www.librarytechnology.org/ltg-displaytext.pl?RC=14494
· TX state library: http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/librarydevelopments/?p=2374
· Libraries in the News: http://www.ilovelibraries.ala.org/news/?p=686
· Southern Adirondack Library System: http://salsblog.sals.edu/index.php/2010/01/27/money-for-rural-libraries/comment-page-1/ (this post does offer a local contact for assistance)
To those of you who are investigating these loan and grant options and application process, is there anything that WebJunction can do to support this process for everyone? It might be helpful to share applications, tips or tricks for going through the process, or lessons learned once awards are made. Let us know what you’d like to see or how we can help.