To help libraries take advantage of the new $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program, the American Library Association (ALA) has created the ECF Solutions Toolkit. New resources summarize key ECF provisions and detail how public and tribal libraries can design, plan, and implement technology services using the new funding to serve library patrons who need it most.
The ECF program will provide funding for public and tribal libraries and K12 schools to purchase connected devices and broadband internet connections for use off of library and school grounds by library patrons, students, teachers, and staff who otherwise lack internet access. Libraries participating in the ECF will receive 100 percent reimbursement of costs for eligible equipment and services and the ability to receive upfront reimbursement.
Libraries and schools can apply for funding for the purchase of eligible equipment and services made between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. The application window for the ECF program will open on Tuesday, June 29, and close on Friday, August 13.
The toolkit, located on ALA’s ECF web page, includes five scenarios that provide step-by-step guidance modeled on examples collected from libraries across the country — in rural, suburban, and urban communities. Options include tablet or laptop lending, hotspot lending, creating community Wi-Fi hotspot zones, and subsidizing home internet access.
ALA also encourages libraries to take advantage of other ARPA funds to support related digital inclusion needs, such as programming, staffing, and staff training.