WINSTED — Last October, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that his administration was dedicating $2.6 million of Connecticut’s Coronavirus Relief Funds to support the state’s public libraries as they continue to make health and safety improvements and offer more services to residents amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The funds were anticipated to be largely used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, signage, and furniture.
The Beardsley Library, which serves the Towns of Barkhamsted, Colebrook, and Winchester, was awarded $27,830 from the Governor’s initiative to support its reopening efforts. Beardsley was able to use the grant funds to improve its services during the pandemic in several ways.
“When considering how to implement this grant and to have the greatest impact on our community, we reached out to community and school leaders, local service organizations, and people in our towns to see where there were possible unmet needs,” said Library Director Karin Taylor. “We wanted to ensure that we remain a vital resource for the community by continuing all the valuable services we had to offer prior to the pandemic in a way that is safe and accessible for as many people as possible.”
One critical area of need was an increased capacity for making public computers and wi-fi available to patrons for their remote work and learning. The grant funds were used to enhance network infrastructure and security and to make computer workstations protected by barriers and enhanced sanitation practices.
Another key need in the community was access to library materials in the way people felt most comfortable. The library improved its ability to provide in-person, curbside, and homebound delivery of library materials through the addition of critical safety protocols for staff and library users.
It also increased its capacity to continue to deliver high quality educational and cultural programs. Although virtual has been the primary method of program delivery since the pandemic began, through the Everybody Learns initiative, the library acquired additional items to make outdoor programming more feasible when the weather permits and to open up its meeting rooms and new Smart Space to provide a safe location for small groups to meet.
As one library patron stated, “It’s normalizing to have access to a small part of my old routine. The staff is as friendly and helpful as ever and I appreciate that they are there.”
The grant program, which concluded at the end of December, was administered by the Division of Library Development at the Connecticut State Library. Learn more about the Everybody Learns Grants to Public Libraries at libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/dld/ELgrants.