Governor Mike Parson announced October 9th that 39 Missouri libraries were awarded more than $870,000 through the Missouri State Library to help residents access high speed internet for telehealth and distance learning in response to COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has created a massive shift to online services,” Parson said.
“Providing our public libraries with the means to meet the need for access to devices and high-speed internet will help close the connectivity gap many students and citizens are experiencing during this time.”
Six initiatives were launched on July 2 as a part of the Rapid Broadband Deployment Initiative which uses the state’s CARES Act funding. The broadband funding for Missouri libraries allocated up to $2.5 million for this program. The Missouri State Library and Missouri Department of Economic Development reviewed and approved grant applications.
The program was designed to provide grants to Missouri’s public libraries for resources such as hotspots and Wi-Fi enabled devices in support of telehealth and students of higher education.
The funds from this program will be used to establish hotspot lending programs, Wi-Fi capable laptops for patron checkout, and expanding bandwidth at libraries to accommodate additional network demands.
Locally, Mid-Continent Public Library will receive $82,016 to enhance their existing lending program with up to 215 hotspots .
“We are thrilled to be the recipient of this generous grant, which will help the Library support students struggling to stay connected while attending classes,” Steven V. Potter, MCPL Director and CEO said.
“Now more than ever, an internet connection is vital for all aspects of our lives—professional, educational, social—the hotspots acquired by this funding, along with the additional matching funds provided by Jackson County will allow customers to access the internet to attend classes and continue their post-secondary education during these very challenging times.”