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Camden County libraries optimistic for more federal assistance

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 4:16 PM CDT
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CAMDENTON, Mo. (KY3) - Since March, a lot has changed at Camden County libraries.

The library district closed down in March for six weeks. In those six weeks, the library got rid of some furniture to encourage social distancing, installed protective shields at the front desk, and put in more self-check out systems.

That all cost money.

”We did everything we could to start getting in supplies for disinfecting, and masks, and gloves, to keep staff and patrons safe,” said Michael Davis, Director of the Camden County Library District.

Public libraries got some help through the federal CARES Act, which set aside $50 million.  

The American Library Association says more is needed.

”This can be the difference in libraries actually serving these communities and providing these essential services that we need now, more than ever,” said Julius C. Jefferson Jr., President of the American Library Association.

There’s a bill in Congress called the Library Stabilization Fund Act. It would give $1.7 billion for libraries, with at least $10 million going to each state.

”That amount of money, $10 million is huge for the state of Missouri,” Davis said.

Davis doesn’t want to wait and rely on Congress.

He’s working to get a federal grant that would help the library add internet hot spots in places county parks, and get laptops that would help the public with telehealth visits.

“If everything turns out okay, like we’re hoping it will, that may be 100-percent free money to the library to purchase all of those supplies, which is outstanding and rarely happens in the world of grants,” Davis said.

While the bill in Congress is bipartisan, it’s sponsored by more Democrats than Republicans. Jefferson is optimistic it’ll pass by the end of the year.

The Camden County Library District’s grant application is due by the end of the month.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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