There is a Wisconsin Libraries CARES act grant available to all Wisconsin libraries.  The intent of the CARES Act appropriation for the Institute of Museum and Library Services is to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by expanding digital network access, purchasing internet accessible devices (provided those devices comply with Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requirements), and providing technical support services to address digital inclusion efforts and related technical support.  The grant information and guidelines can be found here

https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/pld/pdf/cares_act_grant_information_and_guidelines.pdf

The LEANWI partners have created a Google doc to use as a shared survey to make it easier to keep track of what all of the libraries may be interested in. Please fill out this form by June 26! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeK7VGzAttQ6uYRvlnx7Zxh5jdGjrohzHQbRG_nmh_-9jTt6Q/viewform. You will have to choose the system and then your library.  You can choose up to 3 selections from the list or add your own using the “other” selection.

The following is a list of ideas that are mentioned in the grant and other ideas that have beet brought up by other systems and IFLS staff:

  • Expanding digital network access
    • Increasing internet bandwidth
    • Upgrading wireless internet access points
    • Improving wireless internet availability inside the library or outdoors adjacent to the library
    • Providing mobile wireless internet access on bookmobiles or other outreach vehicles
    • Installing alternate community wireless internet access points (e.g., local museum, village hall, public park)
    • Purchasing and installing cabling and infrastructure costs (e.g., cabling, switches, access points, weather-proofing)
    • Purchasing and installing cabling to support social distancing of wired workstations
    • Paying for installation of equipment to support internet access
    • Marketing wireless internet improvements (e.g., permanent signs, sandwich boards, banners)  Marketing costs must promote specific CARES Act improvements to library products or services and not simply advertise general library services. For example, if a library increases outdoor Wi-Fi access using CARES Act funding, it is appropriate to purchase a sign to display in the parking lot advertising the library as a community wireless access point.
    • Web-conferencing software and web cameras for virtual programming, staff interaction and collaboration, staff and patron interaction, and visibility of library meetings
    • Remote access software and necessary peripherals to facilitate staff and patron interactions
  • Providing technical support services
    • Virtual/phone reference
    • Staff development
    • Unemployment and job seeking resources for patrons and/or staff
    • Health information related to the pandemic
    • Community and government information
  • Other Possibilities
    • Digital signage could be used to communicate health information, curbside pickup guidelines and other information that might not be accessible to people without internet access
    • Kiosk computers to be used exclusively for job-seeking, unemployment, applying for benefits (these would have to be filtered to only allow access to certain job search related sites)

We are not going to be able to purchase devices for the libraries.  Things like computers, hotspots, and mobile devices have to be filtered to comply with CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act).  IFLS does not currently have the means to filter the internet at the libraries so these types of devices will not be accessible through this grant.

If you plan on looking into getting any cabling done for maybe an outdoor access point or internally to support social distancing of computers it would be helpful to have a cost estimate of the work that will need to be done by a local contractor.  Any network or power cabling that will be done in the library will have to be contracted out as IFLS cannot do any wiring for this.

Let Kris know if you have questions: schwartz@ifls.lib.wi.us