CARES Act funding brings Wi-Fi hotspots to Williams library
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Williams is using some of its federal coronavirus relief funding to give residents access to the internet to work and learn from home.
The Williams Public Library is using federal CARES Act funding allocated by the Governor’s Office to purchase 10 wireless internet hotspots.
Residents and students who work remotely can check the devices out from the library the same way they would check out a book or a movie.
“Because of COVID, we received a grant to help people who are isolated and have trouble accessing the internet,” said Mary Corcoran, librarian at Williams Public Library. “If it does well we can get more hotspots.”
Corcoran said the grant can be used for other items, but felt that the greatest need in Williams was internet access.
“Many people here don’t have reliable internet,” she said. “We hope to get more money later on when the grant expires.”
How it works
Any Williams resident with a library card can check out one of the internet hotspots. This includes people who are looking for jobs or students doing school work.
Although the hotspots are checked out for two weeks at a time, Corcoran said card holders can renew the checkout if there is no one on the wait list.
Through the grant, the library pays for the internet data and card holders need to only check out the device for access. Each kit comes with instructions for setup including necessary passwords. The provider is T-Mobile.
“We’re focusing specifically on people who have to file for unemployment every week or for job hunting, online classes or those who are telecommuting,” Corcoran said.
She said the library has seen an increase in on-site computer use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of people are looking for jobs, filing for unemployment,” she said. “It’s a huge need.”
To accommodate the need, the library began offering wi-fi when it closed. The wi-fi is accessible from the parking spaces outside the library building.
Community leaders have pushed for more internet services since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it became clear that an overwhelming number of people would be working and learning from home.
Additionally, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has provided the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records with $657,694 in CARES Act funding. These funds are being administered in accordance with the existing Grants to States program and are to be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
Arizona State Library staff developed three funding opportunities to support Arizona residents through their libraries. In the first phase, called CARES Express, 65 libraries from 13 counties were selected to receive a total of 392 Chromebooks, 47 video equipment packages, and 224 sanitation kits.
During the second funding opportunity, CARES Expanded, 49 Arizona libraries received grants of $4,000 each to support internet access, digital literacy and other activities that respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Williams Public Library was the recipient of one of 51 CARES Expanded grants of $4,000 that were distributed to public, school, tribal and academic libraries June 5, 2020 through the Arizona State Library. The library also received funding through the CARES Express grant.
A third phase is called CARES Supplemental and will offer sub grants of up to $10,000 to Arizona libraries of all types.
CARES Act funds have been used for many items at libraries across the country. The funds have been used for masks and hand sanitizer at the Williams library.
Because of the city of Williams hiring freeze and the reduced staffing at the library, hours for service have changed. The library is now open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays.
Through the library website, patrons can place holds on books and staff provides curbside pickup.
The library also has an online survey to gather information from community members about what services are needed.
Online services are available at www.williamspubliclibrary.org or patrons can call (928) 635-2263.
The library also has an ongoing book sale where most books are less than $1. Proceeds go toward library books and equipment.
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