WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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.
Depending on funding availability, USDA Rural Development will provide up to $500,000 in additional Recovery Act dedicated grant funds to each of the State Offices for library projects.
For more information on the program and how to apply, see the USDA Rural Development fact sheet.