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Illinois investing $2 million into libraries in underserved areas

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(The Center Square) – Some libraries in underserved areas of Illinois will be able to make technology upgrades as a result of new grant funding from state taxpayers.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office is awarding $2 million in grants to 113 libraries. To qualify for the grant funding, communities must be eligible for equalization aid grant funding as a result of a low tax base and a high poverty rate.

“As the world and technology evolves, libraries must transform as well so they can deliver programming and services that meet the needs of their customers and communities,” Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, the state’s librarian, said during a news conference at the Cicero library.

Giannoulias’ office said the grants can be used to fund multiple things, such as expanding online collections and e-resources, purchasing adaptive technologies that accommodate service needs for persons with disabilities, or incorporating patron self-checkout.

Illinois U.S. Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Chicago, said libraries can help with those who don’t have access to quality broadband.

“Digital equity is a matter of justice and libraries help provide that access to technology,” said Garcia.

The eligible libraries can receive an amount of $27,500 or $12,500 depending on the size of the population they serve.

“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,” said state Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero.

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