Parish libraries receive $47K in grants

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2021

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The Washington Parish Library has received a special round of funding to help the local library system further respond directly and immediately to the many needs of our communities as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded $3,012,150 to the State Library of Louisiana to be disbursed to public libraries in Louisiana. The Washington Parish Library has received $47,064 of that funding.

This legislation and grant provide a source of one-time funding to close the “digital divide” between rural residents and those in areas that have traditional, wired service.

“The intent behind the program is to put the internet where it is not present” in select areas of the parish, according to Library Director Al Barron. A further goal is to get devices in the hands of learners and internet users in their own communities. Likely candidate areas for partnerships for hosting a hotspot for public use include Mt. Hermon, Clifton, Pine, Varnado, Hackley and Angie, with other sites considered.

The funding will allow more hotspots for checkout and laptops or tablets to go with them. The overall purpose behind this one-time allotment is to put technology in the hands of the people who otherwise do not have access. The number of devices to be purchased will ensure that there will be fewer waiting to use the resources available.

In the last year, the Washington Parish Library has circulated hotspots and has recently expanded its wireless range. Etta Magee, Assistant Director and Network Administrator for the library, has expanded the wireless printing capability in the library. Library users now are only required, if they use Apple, to turn on Wi-Fi and select the printer to print. Android users need to have the HP Print App. The library has allowed for checkout laptops in the past under the BTOP grant in the past, but this time, hotspots will be available to allow access the Internet.

The devices will be made available to the public within a few weeks.

The State Library of Louisiana has a longstanding partnership with Louisiana’s 340 public libraries providing assistance in all areas of library service. This includes disbursing federal funding when it is available. The purpose of these ARPA funds is to provide economic relief as quickly as possible to every parish library system in Louisiana to support public libraries as they continue to assist families with all of their information needs as a result of the pandemic. Specifically, public libraries will spend these funds on expanding digital network access, purchasing internet accessible devices, and addressing digital inclusion by providing technical support services to citizens, particularly in support of education, health, and workforce development needs.

“Public libraries are essential to the well-being of our entire state and provide critical access points for Louisianans to obtain the information and services that they need to thrive and succeed. This has never been more true than during the current pandemic which has exposed the vulnerability of many of our citizens and their lack of internet access, as well as the degree to which they rely upon in-person and online assistance and access to life changing information provided by their public libraries,“ said State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton. “This funding will provide additional relief to our parish public libraries, who have reached far beyond the walls of their libraries, deep into their communities to ensure that they have what they need the most right now–access to information, technology, and broadband.”

For more information on the Washington Parish Library, on resources related to COVID-19, or to view our current programming, visit or call any branch: Franklinton at 985-839-7805, Thomas at 985-848-7061, Bogalusa at 985-735-1961, or Enon at 985-839-9385.