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The original item was published from 10/14/2020 4:06:00 PM to 10/15/2020 10:54:15 AM.

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Posted on: October 14, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Burlington County Library System’s $45K Grant Award to Close Digital Divide

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Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholder Deputy Director
Tom Pullion announced that the Burlington County Library System (BCLS) wasawarded a $45,103 grant that will fund a library hotspot and device lending
program to help close the digital divide and provide technology access to thecounty’s disadvantaged population hit particularly hard by the COVID-19


The library’s application was one of only 68 - out of morethan 1,700 submitted this year – selected to share $13.8 million in FY2020
CARES Act Grants for Museum and Libraries funding from the Institute of Museumand Library Services (IMLS).


The grant award will enable BCLS to partner with other
county agencies and local nonprofit organizations to bring internetconnectivity and technology access to those residents who need it the most,
particularly at this challenging time. Specifically, BCLS will use the funds topurchase tablets and accessories as well as enter into a one-year service plan
for hotspots.


“Since the start of the pandemic every part of BurlingtonCounty’s government -- from our Health, Public Safety and Human Services
departments to the Burlington County Library System -- has gone above andbeyond to try to help our residents through this crisis. This grant award
reflects that commitment,” said Pullion, the Freeholder liaison to the BCLS.


“The closing of libraries due to the COVID-19 pandemic hasonly exacerbated the digital literacy divide in rural Burlington County, which
has a large number of households without computers or internet access,” saidRanjna Das, director of the Burlington County Library System.  “With our partners, we will conduct outreach,
promote the library lending program and inform the public about theavailability of hotspots and devices for borrowing. We also plan to create
simple tutorials to meet the digital literacy needs of our economicallydistressed populations.”


According to the United States Census Bureau, more than
21,000 households in Burlington County do not have internet access and morethan 13,000 households do not have computers. In many areas of Burlington
County, anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of residents are without the means toaccess basic technology. There are significant socioeconomic impacts of having
a high number of households without access to the internet that has become anecessity for work, social interaction, benefits access, household financial
management, education, and leisure. 


The grant funding will enable BCLS to lend hotspots andtablets to residents demonstrating the highest level of need, including Women,
Infants and Children (WIC) Program participants, those with limited English proficiency,people with disabilities, and the homeless. To promote the program, BCLS will
partner with the Burlington County Health Department and the Department ofHuman Services. Other partners will include local services organization that
work with disadvantaged populations, such as Oaks Integrated Care and ServiciosLatinos de Burlington County. 


"As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums
bring people together by providing important programs, services, andcollections,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. ”These institutions are trusted
spaces where people can learn, explore and grow. IMLS is proud to support theirinitiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their


In addition to providing internet access, the plannedlibrary hotspot and device lending program will make all digital resources
offered by BCLS available at home, including 60 online databases focusing onhistory, health, careers, business and more; ESL and foreign language lessons
from Rosetta Stone; streaming video via Kanopy; access to thousands of researchand homework resources; as well as a digital collection with more than15,000
ebooks and audiobooks. 


About The Institute of Museum and Library Services:

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primarysource of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance,
support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizationsthrough grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation
where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individualsand communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook
and Twitter.

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