Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI 12) announced that the Ypsilanti District Library and the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development received combined federal grants of over $490,000, on Monday, July 27. The grants were provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency headquartered in Washington D.C.
The grants are intended to help enhance library services and community connection.The funds were granted in an effort to improve the quality of libraries, connect librarians with the public, and broaden diversity in the library workforce.
The Ypsilanti District Library received a total of $249,788, which will be used to enhance the library’s youth literacy text messaging service, Text and Learn for Kindergarten (TALK). The program is structured to empower parents to prepare children for school. The service sends texts to parents which include activity suggestions parents can do with their children from home.
Public librarians who join TALK will receive training and resources to both use and promote the service. The grant will allow for a new platform for the text and service model. In addition to the new platform, the project will develop promotional and partnership toolkits. The grant will also be used to develop best practice for the messaging service along with professional development around its implementation.
“With the expansion of the program, we are taking what we’ve created and trying to reach more families across the state of Michigan," Jodi Krahnke, head of youth services at the Ypsilanti District Library said. “We’ll be working with the Library of Michigan, which will help us get the promotional materials out, as well as the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services, which will help us with webinars and technology.”
With a significant goal of reaching more audiences, the grant will allow the TALK messages to be translated into Spanish, Krahnke told the Echo.
“We can even start including emotional activities that meet current needs, such as works of anti-racism and diversity,” Krahnke said.
The University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development, an Ann Arbor-based non-profit organization, received a total grant of $242,640. The grant will be used to help broaden the Broadband Toolkit and customized Broadband Improvement Plan. Both programs are designed to help public and tribal librarians learn about their current broadband infrastructure and internal information technology (IT) environment. With these two resources, librarians will be better equipped to improve their broadband services and become stronger advocates for their libraries' broadband infrastructure needs.
“In the middle of this global pandemic, libraries and librarians still have a very important role to play,” Dingell said in a press release. “With this critical support, librarians will now be better suited to connect virtually with their communities and share activity and learning opportunities for children and their parents.”