Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett presented the Jackson-Madison County Library with the state’s fifth-largest technology grant totaling $15,735.
“Now more than ever, technology is important to every aspect of our lives, and libraries are an important part of our communities,” Hargett said. “Not everyone has WiFi at home, not everyone has internet service, so they can come in and check these devices, and I think as more people use these devices, you’ll see more and more people trying to Internet home in their home.”
The Training Opportunity to Public (TOP) grant, funding for which “public libraries may be used to create or improve training programs with the express purpose of providing free public training in broadband use, including computer skills,” according to the Tennessee Grants Office.
There is a $350,000 technology grant budget spread across the state, and according to Hargett, the number of applications exceeds the available funds. This year, funding has to increase by 10% over the previous year to get something to all applicants.
TOP grants have a lower match percentage, grants are offered annually, and libraries apply if needed.
Library Director Dinah Harris expressed the importance of the grant because the library will now be able to add 11 additional portable WiFi devices that the public can view and bring the Internet into their homes. The library currently has 7 WiFi devices in circulation, and there is a waiting list to check one out.
“It made a huge difference, because we couldn’t have added 11 more WiFi devices to our collection without some help,” notes Harris.
TOP grants were also distributed to public libraries in the following counties: Benton, Carroll, Dale, Gibson, O’Brien, and Weekley. Senator Ed Jackson was also in attendance for the check.