St. Edward Public Library used ARPA funds to support the community!
Several areas of the community, along with the library, were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The library’s project targeted specific areas such as infection control, library organization, support for local students, support for homeschooling families, stress relief, and support for Hispanic families.
School administration did not feel it was safe for elementary students to take field trips. So, the library provided several educational programs. These programs covered topics such as pet care, habitats of exotic animals, raptor recovery, wildlife and water conservation within our state, sea turtles, penguins, ocean life, prehistoric oceans, and an art class taught by a local artist. Adult painting classes were also hosted in an attempt to relieve some of the anxiety and stress that resulted due to the pandemic.
Due to this increase in programming, additional organization space was needed. Some of the funds were used to add another file cabinet to the library’s workroom. Also, the library purchased an air purifier to improve infection control.
During this time, the community saw an increase in homeschooling. To aid in this transition, the library added a Homeschooling Resource section. These materials included books from Around the World geography curriculum, Imagination Station history curriculum, Ocean Anatomy, Farm Anatomy, Nature Anatomy, Food Anatomy, and Homeschooling Tips and Ideas for parents.
Lastly, some of the Hispanic members of the community struggled with the language barrier. This lead to problems obtaining services and health care. Some of the ARPA funds were used to obtain bilingual books and materials for the library’s conversational ESL class.
The library has seen success through its projects. Programs for the local students were well attended and some of the teachers have expanded the programs into their classrooms. The library is also working with the local school to provide during and after school sessions.
The homeschooling parents have formed friendships and a support system for each other. There is talk about forming a co-op to bring the kids together for some classes and experiences. Materials for the homeschooling families will continue to be added to the library’s collection and space for the co-op will be provided.
The library’s adult patrons have expressed appreciation for its stress relieving programs. The library is also in the process of scheduling more adult and senior programs.
Local businesses and services, along with the school, have indicated that the library’s English classes for the Hispanic community members have been helping with communication. The Boone County Foundation has expressed interest in helping the continuation of the ESL classes.
The biggest lesson learned was that the library has that ability to be safe space where all are able to come to be nurtured, taught, or just welcomed.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is result of the federal stimulus bill passed by Congress. The Nebraska Library Commission received a one-time award of $2,422,166. A portion of this funding has been allocated for three projects: Formula based grant program, NLC Library Improvement Grants, and NLC Youth Grants for Excellence.
This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Nebraska Library Commission.
For more information about the 2021 American Rescue Plan, visit www.nlc.nebraska.gov/grants/arpa/index.aspx