Mabel C. Fry Public Library Awarded CARES Act Grant to Expand Digital Access - City of Yukon

Mabel C. Fry Public Library Awarded CARES Act Grant to Expand Digital Access

Posted by City of Yukon on 12/29/2020

 

Cares Act Grant

 

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) has awarded a $5,000 Digital Inclusion grant to the Mabel C. Fry Public Library to help the library expand access to digital information and resources.

Yukon’s Library is one of 50 institutions to receive the grant from ODL courtesy of the federal CARES Act and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) whose purpose is to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grant-making, research, and policy development. A total of $290,000 was distributed to public libraries, tribal libraries and cultural centers, museums, and literacy programs to improve digital access during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

Librarian, Sara Schieman said the funding was used to purchase outdoor access points to provide expanded wireless internet connection into the library parking lot and west field.  These access points allow library patrons to have access to a high-speed internet connection any time the library is closed for any reason, not just during the pandemic.  “In March, during our time of complete closure, I spoke to a college student who was sitting on the bench outside the library using the library Wi-Fi to take a college exam,” Schieman said.  “She had a notebook, textbook, laptop and calculator and was juggling and struggling to take her exam.  She couldn’t even stay in her car because the internet connection didn’t extend that far! This grant will be invaluable to people who cannot afford internet access in their home.” 

The library is excited to be able to offer an extended wireless internet service to the residents of Yukon and Canadian county. With virtual learning on the horizon for the foreseeable future, the access points will allow students, parents, and teachers an opportunity for free wireless access from the comfort of their own vehicle no matter the time or day. On days when the weather permits, internet seekers are now able to sit out in the field directly west of the library to access Wi-Fi. 

The most recent Census data shows 76% of Oklahoma households are connected to broadband Internet. According to ODL Director Melody Kellogg, “that leaves a lot of people having to depend on free public access in order to locate and use the digital information and services they need.”

“We already have a digital divide in Oklahoma and across the country,” Kellogg said, “The pandemic has just made the divide harsher since libraries and other places that offer this free access may be closed or only offering limited services at this time.”

Kellogg said Congress provided for CARES Act funds to help libraries, museums and tribal nations bridge this divide.

Grant applicants asked for a variety of products to meet the particular needs of their communities. Some requested equipment to expand the reach of their WiFi access, while others requested hotspots for checkout, or laptops and tablets for checkout or to expand access inside their building. 

In addition, the CARES Act provided grants to help libraries and cultural institutions procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff and customers. ODL distributed $60,000 in PPE grants in June and July to 64 institutions. The Mabel C. Fry Public Library also received a $1,000 PPE Grant which has helped purchase masks, eye protection, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.

A complete list of Oklahoma recipients of the Digital Inclusion Grants can be found at tinyurl.com/OKDigitalInclusionGrants.

The Mabel C. Fry Public Library is one of Yukon’s best departments. Optimism, energy and opportunity  inspire the best in everything we do.  To learn more about Yukon’s best, visit www.yukonok.gov or call 405-354-8232