Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White is awarding $1,142,645 in CARES Act funding to 292 Illinois libraries, school districts and library systems. CARES Act funding was provided to the Illinois State Library from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our public libraries and schools continue to be the cornerstones of our communities, and they have never been more important to their patrons and students,” said White. “We have to ensure they are safe and accessible to everyone. I am pleased to award these grants through the Illinois State Library to assist librarians, patrons and school districts during this unprecedented time.”

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Illinois libraries, school districts and library systems are receiving CARES Act funding for three purposes:

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Illinois Public Libraries: 218 public libraries received a total of $157,580. To assist libraries in addressing the unforeseen consequences of COVID-19, public library agencies could apply for up to $500 per eligible public library building to address the proper handling of library materials and to purchase cleaning and PPE supplies, such as masks and acrylic barriers to ensure the safety of staff and patrons.

Digital Network Access: 70 school districts and public libraries received a total of $485,065. To assist libraries in addressing the unforeseen consequences of COVID-19, public libraries, school libraries and community colleges could apply for up to $10,000 to establish, or expand their digital network access.

Students displaced by COVID-19 and disadvantaged library patrons may not have reliable internet options to connect to remote learning or to access online library services and information. The State Library anticipates that distance education will be an ongoing need in the coming academic year. It is also expected that virtual networking, working remotely and requests for discovering information online may continue to increase.

E-books: Four agencies received a total of $500,000. During the pandemic, patron registrations for e-book access increased significantly. To assure that residents and students have direct access to e-book collections, the two regional library systems, Chicago Public Library and Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries each received $125,000 to purchase e-books for their member libraries.

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