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Keene Public Library to receive N.H. State Library ARPA grant funding

Keene Public Library is pleased to announce that it was awarded $34,496 in funding through the Institute for Museum and Library Services "Grants to States" program. The grant program is part of the American Rescue Act Plan of 2021 facilitated by the New Hampshire State Library.

Keene Public Library will use the award to increase access to library services, particularly for workers and individuals with physical challenges, and assist non-profits and small businesses using Library meeting spaces.

The grant funds will allow the library to purchase an exterior smart locker system, three Owl camera/microphone/ speaker units, associated peripherals, and storage cases. Library patrons will arrange to pick up materials at the exterior lockers 24 hours a day, seven days each week. The Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant smart lockers offer secure, weather-proof delivery of library materials. Cars will be able to pull up to the handicapped accessible flat curb, directly adjacent to a well-lit area, reducing the distance a patron must negotiate to as little as 36 inches. The Owl camera/microphone/speaker units will allow for higher quality remote access to in-person library programs and private and public meetings held at the library. Two Owl units will be available to individuals or organizations using the library's meeting rooms and event spaces. 

Library Director Marti Fiske explained that while the lockers and the Owl units will be handy during the pandemic for patrons who would like contactless services, they will remain useful well after the pandemic passes. "This equipment will allow us to serve better those who have mobility issues and find navigating from the parking area and within the library difficult. In addition, they improve access for caregivers, busy working families, and other individuals who find it difficult to come to the library during open hours, those who lack timely transportation, and those who are uncomfortable driving in evening hours or during winter months. The Owl units can be used by community organizations, small businesses, and non-profits to increase participation on their boards by offering hybrid-remote meetings at the library. They can also reduce their travel expenses when using a library meeting room for their employees to do remote training."

"New Hampshire's strong relationship with its public libraries was made even more evident during the past two years when librarians and their staffs were able to adjust services nimbly to continue to meet the needs of their communities," said N.H. State Librarian Michael York. "The innovative programs funded by these grants will continue to strengthen not only public library services but also the communities in which the libraries reside."

"As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow," said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. "IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities."

Keene Public Library's goal is to have the Owl units available in the library meeting rooms by March and the exterior lockers available sometime in May.

The New Hampshire State Library is part of the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The State Library promotes excellence in libraries and library services to all New Hampshire residents by assisting libraries and the people of New Hampshire with rapid access to library and informational resources through the development and coordination of a statewide library/information system; meeting the informational needs of New Hampshire's state, county, and municipal governments and its libraries; and serving as a resource for New Hampshire. For more information, visit nh.gov/nhsl.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America's museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

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