WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced investments in 30 states that will create jobs by building and enhancing libraries in 129 rural communities across the nation.
The projects are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).
The Cannon County Library System received a $2,042 grant.
Congressman Bart Gordon said the grant will be used to establish a new laptop lab that will include additional computers and an instructor.
“America’s libraries have always been a source of pride and a destination for learning. They are also increasingly becoming the first stop for all kinds of community needs -- a place to apply for jobs, learn about public programs, and participate in distance education,” Gordon said. “These grants will help equip our rural libraries with the technology they need to fill these new roles.”
The $2,000 grant from USDA Rural Development will allow the Cannon County Public Library System to purchase six new laptops, a special laptop for the visually impaired, a digital projector, a printer, a wireless router and assorted software.
The new equipment will increase the availability of Internet access for patrons. The grant will also allow the library to hire an instructor to conduct classes and help patrons hone their computer skills, according to Library Director Rita Allen.
“Our existing computers have seen heavy use, especially in the last year or two. Some patrons have come to the library to access information about benefits, some to supplement their education,” Allen said. “I am terribly excited about the potential of this new laptop lab. I’m particularly excited we will be able to offer free computer instruction.”
"Libraries are the centerpiece of rural community life, but in many cases they need additional funding to provide rural residents with computer access, modern equipment and new training and educational opportunities," Vilsack said. "These Recovery Act investments in our nation's libraries will serve rural America for generations to come."
Today's announcement includes funding for computer equipment to be installed in 70 rural Tennessee libraries, like the one serving the isolated Appalachian town of Sneedville. As with more than 80 percent of rural public libraries in Tennessee, that small library provides the only free public access to the Internet for a community of 6,700 people. These communities have some of the lowest rates of home Internet access and highest rates of unemployment in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Library Initiative is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Office of the State Librarian and USDA Rural Development. Together they are investing more than $1.2 million to increase the capacity of these small libraries to provide workforce training and increase educational opportunities for the communities they serve.
The town of LaFollette, Tenn. will also receive a USDA Rural Development community facilities loan of $1,000,000 and grant of $200,000 for needed renovations and a 2,000 square foot expansion.
Elsewhere, the Recovery Act is helping to promote library and research funding. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Library in Mansfield, Mo., has been selected to receive a $200,000 grant to construct an archival library near a museum and visitor's center complex located on a 173-acre site known as Rocky Ridge Farm. The proposed 6,000-square-foot library would provide library services, archival and research rooms, multi-purpose rooms and allow children and adults the opportunity to conduct historical research.
The $15 million in Recovery Act funding being announced today is being provided through USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Program. It will be combined with $10.2 million from other sources. Funding of each loan and grant is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the agreement. Please click here for complete list of projects. Altogether, 190 libraries across the country have benefited from Recovery Act funding.
USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities program helps finance essential community facilities for public use in rural areas. These facilities include child care centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted-living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation. Through this program, USDA ensures that such facilities are available to all rural residents. These funds are available to public bodies, non-profit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes. More information about USDA Rural Development can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov.
President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief and protect those in greatest need.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in Washington, D.C., and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery . More information about the Federal government's efforts on the Recovery Act is available at www.recovery.gov.