Governor Mike Parson recently announced that 39 Missouri libraries were awarded more than $870,000 through the Missouri State Library to help residents access high speed internet for telehealth and distance learning in response to COVID-19.

Elaina Daniels, director of the Cedar County Library, is pleased to announce they are one of the recipients of this grant.  

“We will be using this grant at both branches to double our bandwidth, extend our wifi to the parking lot, and purchase some in building laptops for students to use for distance learning and patrons to use for tele-health appointments,” Daniels said. “Please continue to watch our Facebook page and website as we roll out these new features in the next month.”

“COVID-19 has created a massive shift to online services,” Governor Parson said in a news release. “Providing our public libraries with the means to meet the need for access to devices and high-speed internet will help close the connectivity gap many students and citizens are experiencing during this time.”

Six initiatives were launched on July 2 as a part of the Rapid Broadband Deployment Initiative which uses the state’s CARES Act funding. The broadband funding for Missouri libraries allocated up to $2.5 million for this program. The Missouri State Library and Missouri Department of Economic Development reviewed and approved grant applications.

“Innovative and impactful proposals show how libraries can play an important role in advancing telehealth and higher education needs in their communities. COVID-19 has disrupted so many aspects of everyday life, and libraries have stepped up to fill in gaps that wouldn’t otherwise be met,” said State Librarian Robin Westphal.

The program was designed to provide grants to Missouri’s public libraries for resources such as hotspots and Wi-Fi enabled devices in support of telehealth and students of higher education. The funds from this program will be used to establish hotspot lending programs, Wi-Fi capable laptops for patron checkout, and expanding bandwidth at libraries to accommodate additional network demands.

“Broadband internet access is essential to the success of our economy and our workforce,” Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon said. “These resources to expand broadband internet will provide more opportunities for Missourians right now, and it will support our economic growth into the future.”

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