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Local News

Wisconsin Libraries Receive $3 Million in Funding from American Rescue Plan

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Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced $3 million in grants to 10 public libraries and 15 library systems in the state. The money is divided equally into three pools to include digital services at libraries, provide emergency relief to libraries, and to support programs that offer services to community members. The money comes from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which authorized $3.27 million for the Wisconsin DPI.

According to State Librarian and Assistant State Superintendent Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, “Public libraries have always been the heart of our communities. During the pandemic, libraries became critical in providing internet access, workforce assistance, literacy programs, and more.” 

The Racine Public Library (RPL) is receiving nearly $144,000 to support their whole person librarianship program. In late 2021 the RPL announced it had hired a full time social worker named Ashley Cedeño in order to meet community needs. The RPL first had a part time social worker. In 2019, Darcy Mohr, the head of RPL adult and youth services, said that employees “had been identifying needs in the community that they weren’t really trained to answer and to help people with: things like poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness.” Cedeño speaks both English and Spanish, and is available by appointment or during her drop in hours on Wednesday and Thursday. The Kenosha County Library Systems will get over $227,000 for a post-covid redesign and a “books in hands” program for covid recovery. The exact details of the redesign and books in hands program are unclear at this time.