Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The Iredell County Public Library has been awarded one of 39 SLNC CARES Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants administered by the State Library of North Carolina.

The awards, totaling nearly $870,000, support local library projects across North Carolina that target high-need communities to address digital inclusion, expand digital network access, purchase internet accessible devices, and provide related technical support in response to the coronavirus.

The Iredell County Public Library will receive $9,975 to fund its Chromebooks To Go program.

Chromebooks To Go will provide 26 Chromebooks available to our users to checkout for use outside of the library. The Chromebooks will be available at each location: 16 at the Statesville Library, four at the Harmony Library, and six at the Troutman Library.

The grant will allow the library to offer access outside of the library for the first time with the intention of supporting workforce development and closing the homework gap.

The Iredell County Public Library will acquire 11 hot spots through TechSoup to enhance this program. Users may checkout a Chromebook, a hot spot, or both.

Across the state, these grants will help students, families, and job seekers through such projects as establishing community technology hubs in areas served by Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library, providing devices and information literacy and searching skills instruction to children of migrant farmworkers through East Carolina University’s Laupus Health Sciences Library, and creating digital literacy training opportunities to assist in workforce readiness to residents served by Roanoke-Chowan Community College and their grant partner Albemarle Regional Library.

“The shift to learning and working online to help limit the spread of COVID-19 has highlighted the increased challenges for those without access to technology and internet resources,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, which oversees the State Library. “Our local libraries work tirelessly to bridge that gap and provide vital technology services to their patrons. I am proud that the State Library is able to assist them in that effort through this grant program.”

The State Library received funding to support this grant program as part of the federal government’s investment in museums and libraries through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided additional funds to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to address the digital divide during the COVID-19 pandemic. These grant awards are made possible under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-246551-OLS-20).

LSTA grants are awarded in response to specific needs of public, academic, and community college libraries. These federal funds are investments that help libraries deliver relevant and up-to-date services to their communities.

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