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Libraries to use CARES funds to improve broadband coverage


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-A number of eastern Idaho libraries have been awarded federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).   

In all, the funding will support 91 Idaho libraries.  In eastern Idaho the list includes:

Aberdeen District Library; American Falls District Library; Bear Lake County Library (two branches) in Montpelier and Paris; Blackfoot Public Library; Franklin County Library District in Preston; Fremont County District Library in Ashton; Jefferson County District Library in Hamer; Lost Rivers Community Library District in Arco; Onedia County Library in Malad; Rigby City Library; Ririe City Library; Snake River School/Community Library in Blackfoot; Soda Springs Public Library; and the South Bannock Library District (bookmobile and three branches) in McCammon, Lava Hot Springs, and Downey

The CARES funding is specifically designed to help libraries with digital inclusion and related technical support or personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

Idaho is one of the nation’s lowest ranking states for broadband availability. As a result, 40% of the population lacks access and 20% have no home access at all. The funding will help libraries establish WI-FI hot spots and WI-FI boosters to help patrons and extend the library’s internet signal beyond the building itself.

“As illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic, our libraries are a trusted source of online information, entertainment, and tools, but too many Idahoans are unable to access those resources from home,” said Idaho State Librarian Stephanie Bailey-White. “The CARES funding will help bridge that digital divide in Idaho.”

The Idaho Commission for Libraries received $161,477 in CARES funding. The commission plans to meet with state librarians before determining what to do with remaining funds.

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