Giannoulias Awarding $2 Million in Library Tech Grants to Underserved Communities

June 6, 2024

Secretary of State Announces 113 Illinois Public Libraries Eligible for Funding

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office is awarding $2 million in new grants to assist public libraries in underserved communities with needed technology enhancements, Secretary and State Librarian Alexi Giannoulias announced today.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, 113 public libraries are eligible to receive a grant – totaling an amount of either $27,500 or $12,500 – depending on the size of the population they serve. View a list of eligible libraries.

“Libraries play a significant role in our communities, so it’s imperative that they evolve to meet the needs of residents and expand their offerings, particularly when it comes to technology,” Giannoulias said. “We have a responsibility to ensure that all communities, regardless of their location or wealth, have access to the best library programming beyond just written materials. These grants will help narrow digital divides.”

To qualify, communities must be eligible for updated equalization aid grant funding –resulting from a low tax base – and have a high poverty rate.

Giannoulias made the announcement today at the Cicero Public Library, alongside Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and State Representative Elizabeth ‘Lisa’ Hernandez (2nd House District).

“Our libraries provide a place for every Illinoisan to make connections with their community and to think, learn and explore new ideas,” García said. “I’m excited to see how our libraries use this technology grant funding to expand opportunities for our residents, increase access to information and help our communities thrive.”

“Continuing to provide libraries with diverse resources whether printed or digitally, we’re making a priceless investment into our communities, especially those that are underserved,” Hernandez said. “I’m excited to see the positive impact of this funding on our communities that need it most.”

“Libraries throughout the state provide a wide range of services to their residents and need technology to make educational resources and knowledge accessible for families,” State Senator Javier Cervantes said. “I appreciate the Secretary’s continued dedication in ensuring residents have the resources they need, and I look forward to our continued partnership."

“Bolstering our technology will help us fulfill our mission of providing information, materials and services to our residents while fostering diversity and a passion for lifelong learning,” said Sandra Tomschin with Cicero Public Library. “This grant funding will have a tremendous impact helping us bridge the digital divide and best serve our residents."

Because libraries receive most funding through property taxes, budgets are primarily determined by their local taxable base. Property values vary widely around the state, leaving some local libraries without needed funding to continue to provide essential services to their communities or to upgrade their technology infrastructure.

In applying for the grants, libraries are encouraged to consider the technology needs of software, expanding online collections and e-resources, purchasing digital devices and mobile apps, increasing Wi-Fi capacity and internet accessibility, assuring ADA compliance for library websites and purchasing adaptive technologies that accommodate service needs for persons with disabilities, and incorporating patron self-checkouts.

Libraries must file plans for use of grant funds by June 14 and projects can start as early as June 28. Libraries will have two years to spend the grant money. View a list of eligible libraries.

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