Rolla Public Library will offer up to ten hotspots and 40 devices for the library’s lending program.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced that Rolla Public Library was among 39 Missouri libraries awarded more than $870,000 through the Missouri State Library to help residents access high-speed internet for telehealth and distance learning in response to COVID-19.

Rolla Public Library will offer up to ten hotspots and 40 devices for the library’s lending program with the assistance of $25,051 through the CARES Broadband Libraries Grant Program.

“COVID-19 has created a massive shift to online services,” Parson said in a news release on the announcement. “Providing our public libraries with the means to meet the need for access to devices and high-speed internet will help close the connectivity gap many students and citizens are experiencing during this time.”

According to a release from the governor’s office on Friday, six initiatives were launched on July 2 as a part of the Rapid Broadband Deployment Initiative which uses the state’s CARES Act funding. The broadband funding for Missouri libraries allocated up to $2.5 million for this program. The Missouri State Library and Missouri Department of Economic Development reviewed and approved grant applications.

The program was designed to provide grants to Missouri’s public libraries for resources such as hotspots and Wi-Fi enabled devices in support of telehealth and students of higher education. The funds from this program will be used to establish hotspot lending programs, Wi-Fi capable laptops for patron checkout, and expanding bandwidth at libraries to accommodate additional network demands.

“Innovative and impactful proposals show how libraries can play an important role in advancing telehealth and higher education needs in their communities. COVID-19 has disrupted so many aspects of everyday life, and libraries have stepped up to fill in gaps that wouldn’t otherwise be met,” State Librarian Robin Westphal said.