Legislative Update -- November 19, 2020November 19, 2020
By now everyone has likely seen that on November 17 Governor Pritzker announced Tier 3 mitigations for the entire state. ILA has included this information on our COVID-19 Resources web page. The key sentences for libraries appear to be the following, found on the IDPH website:
"The provisions above apply to industries/sectors with Restore Illinois Phase 4 guidance or other mitigations. Other functions (i.e. infrastructure, governments, logistics and warehousing etc.) that previously have not been subject to specific guidance may continue regular operations but are encouraged to voluntarily take proactive steps to support new mitigation strategy wherever possible. In these areas, customer serving functions should be limited to 25 percent capacity, aligned with Retail mitigations, and maximize work from home wherever possible."
FAQs on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website do explicitly mention libraries (see p.8), noting that "The operations of libraries are at the discretion of local governmental entities." This is consistent with wording sent from the Governor's office in April to legislators, which we shared with the Illinois library community in our Daily COVID-19 Update on April 8. "Local governmental entities" are not defined, and if/as we can get clarity about this, we will keep everyone updated.
In other news, the REALM Project of IMLS, OCLC, and Battelle has released results from Test 6, which focus on five materials commonly used in furnishings, exhibits, and equipment found in museums, libraries, and archives.
Broadband and Digital Equity
While the news about the mitigations dominated the headlines on Tuesday, the Governor made an additional announcement regarding broadband: a new equity initiative to bridge the digital divide in the state. Building on the existing Connect Illinois program, the new Digital Equity Package provides $750,000 "to help communities identify and address existing broadband equity gaps, as well as to leverage new and existing sources of funding for long-term broadband equity," according to the press release. There are a few tiers of grants available; libraries are specifically mentioned in the "Illinois Connected Communities" section, with $150,000 in funding available. ILA will explore any potential role in the "Broadband READY Grants," with $250,000 in funding available to "qualified regional entities statewide to explore opportunities for equitable advances in the areas of broadband access, adoption, and utilization."