WHEELING – The City of Wheeling’s recent allocation of federal pandemic relief funds to Ohio County Public Libraries will go a long way toward improving public access to library programs and treasure troves, officials said.
At a recent Wheeling City Council meeting, an ordinance was approved granting the library’s request for $75,800 in America’s Rescue Plan Act funding. The unanimous vote in favor of the measure was one of the last ARPA requests approved by the city, which has suspended awarding more funding until city leaders can prioritize outstanding requests and reassess Wheeling’s dwindling pandemic The status of the bailout pool.
ARPA grants from the library will be used for auditorium audiovisual upgrades and a new tablet lending program.
“Improving the video, audio and lighting in the library auditorium will allow us to make our popular programs – such as Lunch with the Books, University of the People and Storytime – more accessible to our residents virtually, while also greatly improving the The library’s field service experience,” said Ohio County Public Libraries Director Amy Kastigar. “As we transition to a mix of in-person and live programming, these technological improvements will allow us to continue serving customers at home with the same quality programming experience and professionally record and archive our shows digitally to produce them Anyone can access it at any time in the future.”
Under the U.S. Treasury Department’s final rule on how ARPA funds will be spent, community institutions such as libraries qualify as “designated impacted industries,” as noted in the city’s ordinance. Library officials agree that the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on how their services are used, especially how technology is helping to bridge the gap between library resources and the communities that seek to use them.
“As the audiovisual capabilities improve, we also hope to share our programming with local hospitals, nursing homes and schools,” Kastigar said. “Additionally, our public meeting spaces, including the auditorium where these AV components will be installed, are provided free of charge to non-profit organizations, so they will also benefit from an improved experience when meeting in the library.”
Kastigar noted that the proposed tablet loan program would provide customers with tablets to check out and take home during recurring loan periods of two weeks or more.
“Together with our Internet hotspot lending program that we are currently launching, this will extend the library’s existing wifi connection service beyond the library and into the homes of residents who do not have an existing Internet connection,” she said.
Library officials thank the city for supporting these initiatives through the ARPA Awards.
The Ohio County Public Library has been a cornerstone of knowledge, education and entertainment in downtown Wheeling since 1882 and this year will mark its 50th year, Kastigar saidday Years of service provided at the present site16day street.
“Public libraries cannot stand still,” Kastigar noted, adding that these new initiatives will help move libraries forward in leveraging modern technology to make services more accessible to the community. “For 141 years, the public library has been a source of lifelong learning for the citizens of Wheeling. As Wheeling’s revitalization moves forward, we hope to work with the city to meet the changing needs of the community.”