Libraries gain record increases for IMLS, E-Rate in federal relief plan

Libraries are eligible for billions of dollars in recovery funding as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, passed by Congress on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) received $200 million, the largest single increase in the agency’s 25-year history. The package also provides billions of dollars in academic, public and school library-eligible programs, including the Emergency Education Connectivity Fund through the federal E-Rate program.

Of the $200 million for IMLS, $178 million is allocated for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and will go to state library administrative agencies on a population-based formula, with a $2 million state minimum. State libraries will distribute ARPA funding to local libraries according to state priorities, to maintain and enhance library operations and services, including:

  • offering greater access to technology, including through expanding digital networks and connectivity, purchasing hotspots, computers and digital content,
  • establishing mobile digital labs,
  • enhancing workforce development and jobseeker programing, and
  • ensuring training and technical support for libraries, including to assist with the safe handling of materials.

“The coronavirus pandemic persists in taking its harsh toll on communities. This infusion of support for America’s vital community institutions is crucial,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “The need for access to information for health, job, educational, and unemployment resources continues across the country, especially in communities that were already vulnerable. We are dedicated to reaching those who need this funding the most as quickly as we can, through U.S. states and territories and directly to libraries and museums.”

In addition to IMLS funding, ARPA also includes $7.172 billion for an Emergency Education Connectivity Fund through the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program. Participating libraries will receive 100 percent reimbursement for the cost of hotspots and other Wi-Fi capable devices, modems, routers, laptops, tablets and similar devices to loan to patrons.

The rescue legislation provides billions of dollars in library-eligible funding to meet critical needs, including:

  • more than $360 billion to state, local and tribal community governments to offset potential cuts to public health, safety, and education programs,
  • $130 billion for education costs associated with the safe reopening of K-12 schools; hiring additional staff; reducing class size; modifying school spaces; and addressing student, academic, and mental health needs,
  • $40 billion for colleges and institutions of higher education to defray pandemic-related expenses and provide emergency assistance to students, with half the funding dedicated to student financial aid, and
  • $135 million each for National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities to support state and regional arts and humanities agencies. Forty percent of this funding is designated for grants and administration for state arts and humanities agencies.

Arkansas will receive $2.6 million for its libraries. The Arkansas State Library will be planning its priorities for spending the grant over the next few weeks.

Content for this blog posting was taken from press releases by IMLS and the American Library Association.

State Library and Department of Education provides LearningExpress Library resource until June 2024

Last June, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arkansas State Library purchased a one-year subscription to Ebsco’s LearningExpress Library for the Traveler Statewide Digital Resources program.

The addition was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services with funding through the CARES Act (LS-246521-OLS-20).

LearningExpress Library is available to all Arkansas citizens and provides workforce development resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It includes interactive modules for college and high school core competencies, computer skills advancement, standardized test preparation, and career certification exam preparation. Standardized test preparation modules cover the ACT®, SAT®, GRE®, GMAT®, LSAT®, MCAT®, as well as ACCUPLACER, ASSET, CLEP, and high school equivalency degrees.

The Job Skills and Career Accelerator provides career match guidance, information on occupations, resume builders, a job search portal, and tutorials on topics such as interviewing, networking and writing cover letters. Also included are exam preparation materials on a variety of career fields, including nursing and allied health, social work, cosmetology, commercial driving, law enforcement, military, teaching, real estate, and many others.

LearningExpress Library resources benefit unemployed Arkansans seeking to reenter the workforce, as well as any Arkansan desiring to develop workplace skills or investigate a career change, or for students preparing to enter the workforce for the first time.

The Traveler program provides Arkansas citizens with free access to an online collection of reputable, high-quality digital resources including academic and professional journals, learning platforms, and magazines, newspapers and periodicals.

The Traveler collection includes materials suitable for research by audiences at every level, from early childhood education to post-graduate studies. No library card or registration is required, and all resources are accessible from the Arkansas State Library website.

Arkansas library youth programmers to meet virtually for Youth Services Workshop

The Arkansas State Library will host the 2021 Youth Services Workshop on March 12 from
9 a.m to 4 p.m. via Zoom.

Keynote speaker, Jarrett Krosoczka will present three general sessions and practicing librarians will lead 12 breakout sessions.

 About Jarrett Krosoczka

Jarrett J. Krosoczka is the New York Times-bestselling author/illustrator behind more than forty books for young readers, including his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, select volumes of the Star Wars: Jedi Academy series, and Hey, Kiddo, which was a National Book Award Finalist. Krosoczka creates books with humor, heart, and deep respect for his young readers—qualities that have made his titles perennial favorites on the bookshelves of homes, libraries, and bookstores.

In addition to his work in print, Krosoczka co-produced, co-directed, and performed in the audiobook adaptation of his graphic memoir, which garnered both Audie and Odyssey Awards for excellence in audiobook production.

Krosoczka has been a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and has delivered two TED Talks, which have collectively accrued more than two million views online. Young creatives can also hear Krosoczka weekly on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live and catch his wildly popular web show on YouTube, Draw Every Day with JJK.

Breakout sessions

Attendees will be able to choose three breakout sessions. Some of the topics include the following:

  • Recapturing your Middle Age Readers
  • Guides Your Library Should Have!
  • Synergy Session—Children (6-9 years)
  • Play to Learn–Toddler and Preschool Play Programs
  • Helping From Home: Teens Volunteering During a Pandemic
  • Arkansas Diamond Award
  • So, You’re a New Programming Librarian…Now What?
  • Charlie May Simon Award
  • Synergy Session—Teen
  • Covid-19
  • Arkansas Teen Book Award  
  • Summer Storytime Ideas
  • True Stories of Animals
  • Synergy Session—Tween

Weekly Zoom meetings for Library Programmers

Learning for library programmers continues throughout the year. Since last March, Library Development has held weekly Zoom training sessions. Programmers have the opportunity to share ideas and challenges they face in their libraries.

Library workers doing programming in Arkansas’s public libraries can join the weekly Zooms by sending an email to Ruth Hyatt at

Public libraries planning for 2021 summer reading program

It may still be the middle of winter, but Arkansas’ children’s and young adult librarians are already planning for the 2021 summer reading program.

Arkansas is a member of the Collaborative Summer Library Program. CSLP began in 1987 when ten Minnesota regional library systems developed a summer library program for children, choosing a theme, creating artwork, and selecting incentives that public libraries in the regions could purchase and use. Today CSLP includes representation from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam and the Mariana Islands. Arkansas joined in 2002.

The 2021 CSLP theme is Tails and Tales! Animals of all kinds roam the lands and soar through the air and many have both a Tail and a Tale! Participants are encouraged to explore the world of life around them and find out what is special about so many of the animals who live with us on our little blue planet.

Arkansas libraries may use the materials and the CSLP theme or create their own Summer Reading Program. Libraries can purchase any themed materials directly from CSLP through its website –


Using CARES Act funds, in 2020 the Arkansas State Library provided READsquared to every public library in the state to enable them to host virtual summer library programs. The contract has been renewed through 2022.

Arkansas libraries are able to conduct an online summer reading program with paperless logging, missions, points, badges and games already set up within READsquared. The contract allows every single public library outlet in the state to create their own program, including unique missions and badges and prize drawings for their local participants.

READsquared provides the ability for summer reading participants to:

  • Register for an account;
  • Create a personal avatar;
  • Log progress toward reading goals;
  • Take on the challenge of missions or games;
  • Receive invitations to online library events; and
  • Keep in touch with library staff.

READsquared can be used on a personal computer, smartphone, or tablet.

For more information on the Summer Reading Program or READsquared, contact Ruth Hyatt, Coordinator of Youth Services at

Arkansas Center for the Book to hold virtual program with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jericho Brown

                The Arkansas Center for the Book will host a virtual poetry program with Jericho Brown on Feb. 4. The hour long program will include Arkansas Poet Laureate, Jo McDougall, and will focus on Jericho Brown’s 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of poetry, The Tradition (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2019). The event will be free of charge and open to the public via Zoom and also livestreamed over YouTube.

About Jericho Brown

                Jericho Brown worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before earning his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront and the Academy of American Poets.  

                In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, his third book, The Tradition (2019), was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award. Brown’s poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Time, The Pushcart Prize anthology, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry anthologies. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.

The Tradition

                Beauty abounds in Jericho Brown’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, despite and inside of the evil that pollutes the everyday. A National Book Award finalist, The Tradition questions why and how we’ve become accustomed to terror: in the bedroom, the classroom, the workplace, and the movie theater. From mass shootings to rape to the murder of unarmed people by police, Brown interrupts complacency by locating each emergency in the garden of the body, where living things grow and wither—or survive. In the urgency born of real danger, Brown’s work is at its most innovative. His invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is an all-out exhibition of formal skill, and his lyrics move through elegy and memory with a breathless cadence. Jericho Brown is a poet of eros: here he wields this power as never before, touching the very heart of our cultural crisis.

— Canyon Road Press

About Jo McDougall

                Jo McDougall has been Poet Laureate of Arkansas since her appointment in 2018 by Governor Asa Hutchinson. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and has published seven collections of poetry and a memoir.

                She has won many awards including a Pushcart Prize (2020), The Arkansas Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry (2019), and an Academy of American Poets Prize. McDougall was inducted into the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame in 2006. With a proclamation from Governor Hutchinson in 2020, she established the first Arkansas Youth Poetry Day, to be celebrated annually.


                Additional information about the program, including registration, is available on the Arkansas State Library’s website at

IMLS releases Volume II of the Public Libraries Survey report

               Volume II of the Public Libraries Survey report, released in late November by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, provides trend analysis of public library use, financial health, staffing and resources.

                The report focuses on two demographic characteristics for FY 2017: locale (i.e., city, suburb, town, rural) and population size served (e.g., fewer than 2,500 people, more than 25,000 people). Together, Volume I and II document the varied ways in which trends in libraries are similar and different across states, location types, and the size of the populations they serve. Volume I was released earlier this year.

                Each year since 1988, the Public Libraries in the United States Survey has provided a national census of America’s public libraries. The data is collected from approximately 9,000 public library systems comprised of over 17,000 individual main libraries, library branches, and bookmobiles in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

                Volume II of the 2017 report includes the following findings:

  • The number of collection materials (books, e-books, audio-video materials) per person increased at libraries in all types of communities since 2008 with the largest increases in these resources at libraries in towns and rural areas and at libraries that serve populations with fewer than 25,000 people, where collections material per person more than doubled.
  • Public library staff offered an increasing number of programs attended by increasing numbers of patrons at libraries serving varied population sizes and in various locales, even as use of traditional library services—circulation, library visits, reference transactions, have declined since 2008.
  • Per person expenditures in 2017 were larger for libraries in cities ($43.09 pp) and suburbs ($42.04 pp) than in towns ($29.33 pp) and rural areas ($30.17 pp).

Arkansas results

  • The number of collection materials per person was 3.72 per person, an increase from 2.88 pp in 2016.
  • Although the number of library programs offered was down slightly in 2017, attendance by patrons at these programs increased over 2016. Traditional library services also increased over 2016.

To read the complete reports, visit Here is an infographic provided by IMLS for Arkansas.

Three book awards for Arkansas Students

Arkansas students can vote for their favorite books in three annual reading awards – the Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award, the Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award and the Arkansas Teen Book Award.

Arkansas Diamond Book Award

                The Arkansas Diamond Book Award is for students in grades K-3. The award is sponsored by two of the divisions of the Department of Education – Elementary and Secondary Education and the Arkansas State Library – and the Arkansas Literacy Association.

                Titles are selected by a reading committee of librarians, media specialists and literacy advocates.  The reading list is distributed statewide. Students must have read at least three of the titles from the annual reading list and may vote for one title in May.

                Due to the age group involved, teachers and media specialists may devise a plan to help children to vote on books that are read to children. Books can be read to the children over an extended period of time, but a review the books read may be necessary before voting, as young children may forget books read at the beginning of the year.

                The 2019-2020 winner is Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds with illustrations by Peter Brown. The second place winner is The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Adam Rex and the third place winner is Please Please the Bees by Gerald Kelley (author/illustrator).

Charlie May Simon Book Award

                The Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award for children’s literature has been presented annually since 1971 to an author whose book has been selected through a vote taken by Arkansas school children in grades 4-6. The purpose of the award is to promote better reading for children and to recognize the outstanding work of Arkansas author Charlie May Simon.

                The Charlie May Simon Award winner is selected by an annual vote. Children must have read or been read at least three of the titles from the annual reading list and may vote for one title. Student voting takes place in May each year.

                The 2019-2020 winner is Restart by Gordon Korman. The second place winner is Hideout by Watt Key and the third place winner is The Losers Club by Andrew Clements.

Arkansas Teen Book Award

                The Arkansas Teen Book Award began in 2009 as a cooperative effort between public and school librarians across the state. Arkansas has long recognized quality children’s literature through the Charlie May Simon and Arkansas Diamond awards, yet the acknowledgment of young adult literature had been greatly neglected.

                  Nominations are accepted from the public, and all eligible titles are included for consideration by the steering committee.  These books are read and voted on by teachers and librarians across Arkansas to narrow the selections to a manageable reading list. This reading list is distributed statewide and then teens cast their votes for their favorite titles to determine the ultimate winners of the awards.

                The steering committee for the teen award now consists of public librarians and school library media specialists from varying backgrounds and service areas.  The primary sponsoring organization is the Arkansas State Library.

                The 2019-2020 Level 1 winner, chosen by students in grades 7-9, is I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was voted the runner-up.  The Level 2 winner, chosen by students in grades 10-12, is Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas was voted the runner-up.

                For more information about these awards, contact Ruth Hyatt, Library Coordinator of Youth Services, at, (501) 682-2860.

A look at Traveler

Welcome to the ASL News Blog, a blog that will report on projects and programs of the Arkansas State Library, share news from the Arkansas library community and news from such national sources as the Institute of Museum & Library Services, the Library of Congress and the American Library Association.

Look for new postings every two weeks.

We start off with a look at one of the State Library’s most popular programs, the Traveler Statewide Digital Resources.

Traveler provides statewide access to a collection of subscription digital resources. Arkansas residents have free, remote access to all Traveler resources. Remote authentication for individual users is accomplished through geolocation; no registration process is required.

Traveler resources help facilitate a lifelong love of learning; it contains resources suitable for students at every level, from early education to post graduate studies. The Traveler collection is a valuable resource for educators, parents, caregivers, students or anyone with a love of learning.

All Traveler digital resources are accessible from the Arkansas State Library’s website, All public, school and academic libraries in the state may register their IP addresses with the Arkansas State Library to enable institutional access, which allows individual libraries the ability to seamlessly integrate Traveler’s information resources with their own digital collections. The Arkansas State Library provides training, assistance, and supplemental resources for both technical and end users through webinars, workshops and instructional materials.

On November 23, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that 12 ABC-CLIO databases have been added to Traveler.

These award-winning databases are designed to help students build foundational knowledge, strengthen critical thinking skills, and power student inquiry. They will provide access to a rich library of resources covering American government, American and World history and geography, pop culture, societal issues, health, and wellness.

In addition, Arkansas educators have access to the ABC-Clio Educator Support Site and School Library Connection which will provide tools and professional development. More information about the ABC-CLIO databases and the supporting resources can be found at

Three webinars are currently scheduled for Arkansas educators to introduce the ABC-CLIO databases and its supporting resources:

  • Getting Started with ABC-Clio Databases on Dec. 1,
  • Ready-to-Use Resources for Remote Learning on Dec. 8, and
  • Get Inspired with School Library Connection on December 17.

To see the full listing and register for any of the webinars visit:

While these webinars will be geared towards educators, they are open to any librarian who wants to attend.

The addition of these databases to Traveler is made possible through funds granted by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Comprehensive State Literacy Grant. For more information on the new databases, contact Cassandra Barnett, Program Advisor for School Libraries,

If you have questions about Traveler, contact Katie Walton, the State Library’s Acquisitions Manager, at