Completing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a long and arduous process for the Obama Administration and the new Congress. Now that President Obama has signed the bill into law, our nation can begin the journey of restoring our economic stability through the programs and initiatives this law will make possible.
Throughout the process of creating this law, the library community demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the American public by working to inform our leaders in Washington about the programs and services libraries across the country are providing to help America get back to work, such as assistance with resume building and online job searching as well as free classes to teach the public 21st century job skills.
With many opportunities available to libraries through the stimulus bill, the library community must continue our efforts to educate our elected officials on the benefits of investing in libraries — focusing now on the state level.
Implementing the law will no doubt be as complex a process as creating it, and for this reason the ALA Washington Office has created www.ala.org/knowyourstimulus as a one-stop source with resources on how to make sure libraries benefit from the package and the most up-to-date information on the stimulus. As information becomes available, the ALA Washington Office will post updates on this page with details, such as how funding will be distributed and how to apply.
We have compiled a list of the programs that libraries can benefit from included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. More information will be posted on each section as it becomes available.
$7.2 billion for Broadband
This includes $2.5 billion for Rural Utilities Service and $4.7 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) broadband grant program to increase broadband access and usage in underserved areas of the nation. This includes $200 million in competitive grants for expanding public computer capacity at public libraries and community college libraries. Additionally, this includes $650 million for DTV, of which $90 million may be used by organizations, including libraries, for education and outreach to vulnerable populations including one-on-one assistance for box installation.
$53.6 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund
This program includes $48 billion in block grants allocated among the states. Out of each state’s allocation, 81.8 percent is reserved for education and 18.2 percent is reserved for the governor to use as he or she sees fit. $39.5 billion for education using existing funding formulas, which can be used for preventing cutbacks, preventing layoffs, school modernization (school libraries will benefit from this), or other purposes and $8.8 billion for state fiscal relief for high-priority needs such as public safety and other critical services (including public libraries), renovation and repairs of public school facilities and institutions of higher education facilities. Encouraging state officials to invest the funds they receive from Congress in public and school libraries will be critical. It is also important to note that with the billions of dollars states are receiving, there should be no need for drastic state cutbacks in services.
An additional $120 million for the Senior Community Service Employment Program
This funding will provide community service jobs at nonprofit and public facilities, including libraries, for an additional 24,000 older Americans. The Senior Community Service Employment Program is a community service and work-based training program for older workers. Program participants are placed in a wide variety of community service positions at non-profit and public facilities, including daycare centers, senior centers, governmental agencies, schools, hospitals, libraries and landscaping centers. There are currently 74 grantees. Grant awards are made to 18 national nonprofit organizations and 56 state and territorial governments. In most states, the governor has selected the State Office on Aging to administer the program. The contact information for all existing grantees is available by going to www.doleta.gov/seniors. Click the contacts link on the right and on that page go to grantees PY 2007.
An additional $130 million for the Rural Community Facilities Program
The Community Programs is a division of the Housing and Community Facilities Programs at the United States Department of Agriculture. Community Programs includes the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program, the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program, and the Community Facilities Grant Program. These programs help develop essential community facilities for public use in rural areas. These facilities include schools, libraries, childcare, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation.
Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director
ALA Washington Office