County libraries receive CARES funds

MIAMI COUNTY — Libraries throughout the county have received COVID-19 safety funding to protect staff and patrons as libraries begin to again serve their communities.

The Office of Budget and Management distributed $25,000 to each of the county’s libraries in July as part of COVID safety funding to Ohio Public Libraries. The payments are funded with Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) provided to the state from the US Department of Treasury as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. The Troy-Miami County Public Library received $75,000 in relief funds because of its three properties, including the Oakes-Beitman Public Library in Pleasant Hill and the L0cal History Library in downtown Troy.

“Thanks to our partners in the General Assembly, specifically State Representative Jena Powell and State Sen. Steve Huffman, CARES Act funding is going back into our communities and supporting local resources,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “We know this funding will be put to good use serving the community.”

These payments assist libraries in operating safely during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including supporting increased sanitation costs, maintaining social distancing, purchasing personal protection equipment (PPE) and other necessary costs to comply with public health orders, local health department recommendations and best practices.

Troy-Miami County Public Library Director Rachelle Via said funds will be used for new furniture for social distancing and ease of cleaning for staff and patrons as well as technology needed for telework and to comply with mandates.

“We are also attempting to get touchless faucets for all restrooms as well as water bottle fillers to replace faucets,” Via said. “These are in-demand and may not be accessible to us this year.”

Roeth said they are using some of the COVID safety funds for salaries of staff who were off during the library shutdown during a two- to three-week period of government ordered shutdown, PPE and disinfection supplies, and the remainder is to be used for touchless bathroom and door equipment as well.

J.R. Clarke Public Library Director Cherie Roeth said the library also received a CARES Act Grant of $3,000 to use for HotSpots for patrons and home schoolers who do not have Internet or WiFi. It will also assist in paying the monthly charge for HotSpots through June 30, 2021.

Funding at the Bradford Public Library is also going toward making restroom fixtures no-touch, but also for two electrostatic sprayers, washable computer keyboards, new WiFi boosters, racks to help with quarantining of returns, PPE and reimbursement for quarantine pay, according to director Stacie Layman.

Tipp City Public Library Director Lisa E. Santucci said the library staff it still working on a plan for the expenditures the relief funds will cover.

Via said they have plans to expand the Troy and Pleasant Hill libraries’ hours later this month and the Local History Library recently re-opened to the public.

“It’s been a hard year but the staff is resilient and continues to surprise me at how open they are to changes needed to meet mandates and at how creative they are,” Via said.

Via said while she doesn’t have an actual dollar amount at the moment, she estimated the extra steps and cleaning needs at over $10,000 several months ago.

“But it’s much higher,” Via said.

Other than the purchasing of books and materials and monthly costs like utilities, almost all of their expenses are tied to the pandemic in some way from the purchase of an app patrons can use to check books out on their phones to the myriad cleaning supplies and PPE they’ve acquired, Via said.

“For example, we had a story time in the park recently with guest readers from the fire department. Due to social distancing, people had to spread out so we purchased a microphone and speaker so the reader can be heard.

There’s not a single service or program that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic,” Via said.

“These dollars will help to keep the library open and accessible to all of our residents. We are very pleased. We also feel this is certainly in-line with First Lady Fran DeWine’s goal of promoting reading for Ohioans of all ages,” Miami County Commission President Jack Evans said.

For more information on Ohio’s COVID Funding, visit grants.ohio.gov or email contact@obm.ohio.gov.