Category Archives: Articles and Information

FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Now Open



The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened enrollment for the new Emergency Broadband Benefit program. The temporary benefit will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

Program and application essentials, including eligibility, are outlined in a new FCC-American Library Association (ALA) fact sheet for libraries. An outreach and awareness toolkit is available from the FCC to spread the word in your communities.

The $3.2B Emergency Broadband Benefit program provides a discount of up to a $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands.  The benefit also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.

A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail-in application.  Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available at  www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling (833) 511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week

Rental Assistance Program Available to Your Patrons



Graphic reads: Need Rental Assistance? $180 million available for eligible Wyoming renters struggling to make rent and/or utility payments due to COVID-19. Applications now open. Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Visit dfs.wyo.gov/erap or call 1-877-WYO-ERAP

Economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on many in our communities. Do you have patrons who rent their home in Wyoming and are unable to make rent, internet and utility payments? How about landlords needing help? The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) pays landlords and broadband and utility companies on behalf of eligible Wyoming renters who are unable to pay rent, internet and utility payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information is available and applications are now open at dfs.wyo.gov/erap.

The Wyoming Department of Family resources would like libraries’ help to spread the word in your communities. They have provided these useful tools:

Wyoming received $200 million in federal funding for the program, a U.S. Treasury initiative passed through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and expanded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Under the new federal guidelines, $180 million is available for direct financial assistance for rent, utility, and internet payments and housing stability services, while $20 million is available for application assistance and administrative costs. New guidelines have extended the program through December 31, 2021.

For patrons needing assistance with their applications, there are community based organizations being set up in counties to provide help. (Click here for an updated list.) For ERAP support, call center hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The toll-free phone number is 1-877-WYO-ERAP (1-877-996-3727).

News in Brief



Wyoming Author Online Book Discussion: Public Waters
Wyoming author Anne MacKinnon is offering a series of online book discussions beginning May 6 for her book, Public Waters: Lessons from Wyoming for the American West. The book is about the history of water and water law in Wyoming, and what that can teach about handling the challenges of water in the West. Additional online events are also listed.

Skills for Community-Centered Libraries: A Webinar Series
WebJunction has partnered with the Free Library of Philadelphia on a series of three webinars this summer on the Community-Centered Libraries project, highlighting facets of the curriculum, and featuring staff with reflections on their learning, the impacts on their professional practices and the shifts in mindset toward a common goal of community engagement for their communities as defined by their communities.

Jason Reynolds Named Inaugural Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week
Jason Reynolds has been named the inaugural Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week 2021. The New York Times bestselling author will headline the annual celebration of the right to read, which takes place September 26 – October 2, 2021. Two of Reynolds’ books — All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely) and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (with Ibram X. Kendi) — were among the ALA’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020. This year’s theme is the theme, “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”.

United for Libraries Virtual Conference Program Proposals Open
United for Libraries is accepting proposals for its upcoming online conference “United for Libraries Virtual: Trustees – Friends – Foundations,” scheduled to be held Aug. 3-5, 2021. Program proposals on topics of interest to library trustees, friends, foundations, and staff who work with them. The call for proposals is open through Monday, May 17. Those who submit proposals by the deadline will receive an acceptance decision on June 1.

AASL Releases Guide to Inspire Future Generations of Explorers
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has released a new resource guide to support school librarians inspiring future generations of explorers. “Developing Reflective Explorers and Innovators” contains activities, resources, and professional development based on the Explore Shared Foundation in the AASL “National School Library Standards.” The guide, along with supporting materials, can be downloaded at standards.aasl.org/project/explorers.

TeachEngineering Offers STEM Resources for K-12
TeachEngineering is a digital library comprised of standards-aligned engineering curricula for K-12 educators to make applied science and math come alive through engineering design. Educators have free access to the ever-growing collection of activities, lessons, units, maker challenges, sprinkles, and living labs.

Toolkit for Children with Print Disabilities
The Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee is devoting the 2020-2021 calendar year to creating vibrant, dynamic toolkits with up-to-date resources for working with marginalized populations. This month, their focus is on serving children with print disabilities. Print disabilities commonly affect students with blindness, visual impairments, learning disabilities or other physical conditions that make it difficult to hold or manipulate educational materials.

New Website Helps You Find the Best Kids’ Books
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has just launched their Book & Media Awards Shelf, a one-stop shop for finding world-class content for youth. The website lists almost 2,000 titles that have won ALSC awards over the past century. Selections include content for kids aged 0 to 14, reflecting a diverse array of authors, styles, and themes. Book & Media Awards Shelf database lets you filter by genre, format, release date, and more, so that families and educators can find exactly what they’re looking for.

Catalog Undercover with the U.S. National Archives
Fascinating stories of coded messages, espionage, and intelligence are found in the historical records of the U.S. National Archives. Explore stories of spies, camouflage, and cryptography in their catalog!

Dias is Honorary Chair for Library Card Sign-up Month



Marley Dias, author, executive producer and founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, is taking on a new role as honorary chair of Library Card Sign-Up Month. This September, Dias will join the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries nationwide in promoting the power of a library card.

As honorary chair, Dias will remind the public that signing up for a library card provides access to technology, multimedia content and educational programming that transforms lives and strengthens communities. “A library card is the ticket you need to travel across the globe. It allows you to experience stories that can connect you to diverse and empowering experiences,” said Dias.

Whether you use a library card online or in person, it gives students the tools to succeed in school and provides people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunities to pursue their dreams and be their best selves. From family storytimes to virtual homework help, libraries play an essential role in supporting the value of lifelong learning through education.

Dias is the witty and purpose-driven 16-year-old founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks and author of “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!“ #1000BlackGirlBooks is an international movement to collect and donate children’s books that feature Black girls as the lead character. Dias launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks drive in November 2015 with the help of GrassROOTS Community Foundation. The goal was to collect 1,000 books by February 2016, and Dias has collected more than 13,000 books to-date.

In 2018, Dias was recognized by TIME as one of the 25 most influential teens and was also identified as the youngest member of the Forbes 30 under 30 list to date. Dias is also the executive producer of Netflix’s “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices,” which is currently nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Children’s Programs category. Dias’ #1000BlackGirlBooks resources guide can found here.

Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the ALA and libraries unite together in a national effort to ensure every child signs up for their own library card. For more information, please visit ala.org/librarycardsignup.

REALM Literature Review and New Toolkit Resources



The REALM (REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums) Project has a literature review and new toolkit resources available.

Systematic literature review

This third systematic literature review of SARS-CoV-2 research published through November 2020 summarizes current research on how the virus spreads, its survival on materials and surfaces, and the effectiveness of various prevention and decontamination measures.

Toolkit Resources

New toolkit materials with resources and information on vaccines, reopening considerations, social distancing measures, and virtual programming are also available:

  • Vaccines – collection of curated information and resources about vaccines that can help to answer common COVID-19-related questions
  • Reopening Considerations – this document synthesizes information in reopening plans that have been generously shared by libraries, archives, and museums
  • Social Distancing – resources to help provide guidance on social distancing measures while serving the public and keeping staff safe
  • Virtual Programming – examples and resources for conducting successful virtual programs and meeting people where they are—online

For more information, see the REALM FAQs and question submission form.

Preservation Week Focuses on Community Archives



History is the glue binding communities together. As culture is passed down from generation to generation reinforces our connection to the past, we lay a firm foundation for the future.

During Preservation Week 2021, celebrated April 25– May 1 with the theme “Preserving Community Archives,” the American Library Association (ALA) will promote efforts to conserve community archives.

On Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28, join Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures for two free Preservation Week 2021 webinars.

ALA will join hundreds of libraries, institutions, archives, and museums from across the country to highlight ways in which the public can contribute to promoting and preserving their community’s history. Throughout Preservation Week libraries, institutions, archives, and museums will use the hashtag #preswk to engage with their communities and discuss their preservation programs and services.

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and New York Times Magazine journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones is the honorary chair of Preservation Week 2021. As the creator of The New York Times’s landmark 1619 Project, Hannah-Jones examines slavery’s modern legacy, reframing the way we understand the history of slavery and the contributions made by Black Americans to this nation. Her essay, “Our Democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true,” was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize.

As Preservation Week 2021 Honorary Chair, Hannah-Jones will appear in Preservation Week artwork and will chronicle preservation efforts through various social media channels. You can also follow her on Twitter with @nhannahjones as she engages in discussions surrounding civil rights and social justice throughout the week.

Preservation Week is supported by Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures, a division of the American Library Association.

Celebrate Citizen Science Month



Citizen Science Month 2021 logoApril is Global Citizen Science Month! If you are looking for ways to involve your community in your library activities, Citizen Science is a great way to do it. Patrons of all ages can participate in collecting and analyzing data, engaging in real research to advance science. Projects include monitoring light pollution, investigating the safety of drinking water, observing plants and animals in your area, Alzheimer’s research, and much more. Free resources abound to help you plan programs, access materials, learn about projects, and more!

To get started with Citizen Science, visit SciStarter. To find out more about Citizen Science Month including projects, programming ideas, and other resources, visit scistarter.org/citizensciencemonth-about.

Top 10 Challenged Books of 2020



Among the findings in this year’s State of America’s Libraries report is that attempts to remove library materials continued during the pandemic, despite many libraries and schools closing or moving their activities and services online. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracks attempts to ban or restrict access to books across the United States and to inform the public about censorship efforts in our libraries and schools.

In 2020, more than 273 books were affected by censorship attempts. Demands to remove books addressing racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color grew in number. At the same time, books addressing themes and issues of concern for LGBTQIA+ people continued to dominate the list.

Below are the top 10 most challenged books of 2020:

1. George, by Alex Gino
Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community”

2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people

3. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now”

4. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author

6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice, by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views

7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience

8. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students

9. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse

10. The Hate U Give,  by Angie Thomas
Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message

Other library trends are available in the full text of the State of America’s Libraries Special Report: COVID-19.

Celebrate National Library Workers Day



Today, April 6, 2021, is National Library Workers Day. It’s a time to recognize library staff members for their public service contributions in transforming lives and communities. This event is celebrated each year on the Tuesday of National Library Week.

Library staff play an invaluable role in supporting their communities both in person and virtually as the world continues to fight COVID-19. In times of crisis, libraries of all types and their workers serve millions of library users in need of free access to WiFi, eBooks, accurate information, and digital social services.

The ALA Allied Professionals Association (ALA-APA) invites library advocates, patrons, and staff to show their support of our nation’s library workers by posting words of encouragement and appreciation for their local library stars at http://bit.ly/librarystar. Library staff and the general public can also share well wishes over their social media channels with the hashtag #NLWD21 or post messages to the National Library Workers Day Facebook page.

The ALA Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) is a companion organization to the American Library Association (ALA), the ALA-APA is a nonprofit professional organization established “to promote the mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers.”