By Tom Travis
Federal grants totalling $28,914 will help Michigan libraries address operational challenges during the pandemic. U.S. Representative Dan Kildee (D) announced the new grants during a visit to the Flint Public Library (FPL) on Friday, where he received an update on the Kearsley Street Flint Public Library building renovation project by Kay Schwartz FPL director.
“I am proud to announce these federal grants to support our public libraries. Libraries provide such a critical service to our community. During the pandemic, they have adapted their services to offer curbside pick-ups, virtual children’s storytime, and expanded parking lot wi-fi access. I am incredibly grateful for their continued commitment to serve the public. In Congress, I will continue to work to bring home federal resources to help our state,” Kildee stated in a press release from his office.
The Genesee District Library will receive $5,900 as part of a federal grant. The eight public libraries that received funding included:
- Bay County Library System: $6,400
- Bridgeport Public Library: $500
- Bullard Sanford Memorial Library: $3,500
- Genesee District Library: $5,900
- Iosco-Arenac District Library: $2,600
- Millington Arbela District Library: $3,114
- Public Libraries of Saginaw: $6,400
- Reese Unity District Library: $500
The CARES Act, passed March 25 with a 96-0 vote in the U.S. Senate included funding to aid millions of Americans dealing with the ensuing pandemic. The CARES Act also included funding to help museums and libraries during the pandemic. Libraries across Michigan received $902,397 from the CARES Act.
Schwartz said that the FPL chose not to apply for that first round of pandemic funding citing that the FPL was in the midst of shoring up funding for the move, renovation and construction of the new FPL project. She added the amount of funding the FPL would have received from the CARES Act would have been about $5,000. Schwartz said they may apply if a second stimulus package is passed by Congress.
Pending legislation; $2 billion Library Stabilization Act
Kildee said he is also supporting legislation in Congress, the Library Stabilization Fund Act, which would establish a $2 billion Library Stabilization Fund to help libraries respond to and recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus. According to a Library Journal article the $2 billion bill would provide funding for:
- $1.7 billion to be distributed to local libraries through state library agencies based on state population, with a minimum of $10 million to each state
- $45 million in formula grants—noncompetitive awards based on statistical criteria—to Tribal libraries
- $200 million in competitive grants to strengthen library services to communities affected by COVID-19
- $40 million for IMLS to administer grants and conduct research and data collection related to COVID-19
Kildee tours FPL and receives updates on renovation and construction project
Library Director Schwartz and Library Finance and HR Director Connie Palmer guided Kildee on a tour through the FPL’s temporary location in the Courtland Center Mall at I-69 and Center Road. On the tour Kildee elbow bumped patrons and workers in the library.
Kildee was accompanied by his district director, Flint resident Chris Flores. Everyone wore masks and maintained social distancing protocols.
After the tour Kildee removed his mask and donned a pair of glasses while he sat alone at a laptop for a video conference with members of the Michigan Library Association. The video conference was to discuss how Michigan libraries have adapted their services during the pandemic and what additional support libraries need to maintain services for the community.
“Since early March 2020, most of our library buildings have been physically closed, but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to provide virtual and curbside services in their effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” said Deborah E. Mikula, Executive Director of the Michigan Library Association. “Libraries in mid-Michigan continue to provide essential and critical services during this global pandemic and we are grateful to Congressman Kildee for supporting the CARES Act, which provides vital resources to reopen safely,” according to a press release from Kildee’s office.
At the end of the video conference with library directors Kildee took out his phone and showed everyone a picture of his family’s new cat named Steven.
EVM Managing Editor, Tom Travis, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org