Secretary Giannoulias Awarding $2 Million in Library Tech Grants to Underserved Communities

Secretary of State Giannoulias Awarding $2 Million in Library Tech Grants to Underserved Communities
7 min 52 s

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office is awarding $2 million in new grants to assist public libraries in underserved communities with needed technology enhancements, Secretary and State Librarian Alexi Giannoulias announced today.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, 113 public libraries are eligible to receive a grant – totaling an amount of either $27,500 or $12,500 – depending on the size of the population they serve. A list of eligible libraries is available to view at the end of this article.

“Libraries play a significant role in our communities, so it’s imperative that they evolve to meet the needs of residents and expand their offerings, particularly when it comes to technology,” Giannoulias said. “We have a responsibility to ensure that all communities, regardless of their location or wealth, have access to the best library programming beyond just written materials. These grants will help narrow digital divides.”

To qualify, communities must be eligible for updated equalization aid grant funding – resulting from a low tax base – and have a high poverty rate.

Giannoulias made the announcement today at the Cicero Public Library, alongside Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and State Representative Elizabeth ‘Lisa’ Hernandez (2nd House District).

“Our libraries provide a place for every Illinoisan to make connections with their community and to think, learn and explore new ideas,” García said. “I’m excited to see how our libraries use this technology grant funding to expand opportunities for our residents, increase access to information and help our communities thrive.”

Because libraries receive most funding through property taxes, budgets are primarily determined by their local taxable base. Property values vary widely around the state, leaving some local libraries without needed funding to continue to provide essential services to their communities or to upgrade their technology infrastructure.

In applying for the grants, libraries are encouraged to consider the technology needs of constituents. They can use the grants to help fund things such as adding hardware and software, expanding online collections and e-resources, purchasing digital devices and mobile apps, increasing Wi-Fi capacity and internet accessibility, assuring ADA compliance for library websites and purchasing adaptive technologies that accommodate service needs for persons with disabilities, and incorporating patron self-checkouts.

Libraries must file plans for use of grant funds by June 14 and projects can start as early as June 28. Libraries will have two years to spend the grant money.