ARRA & Libraries
On Feb. 13, 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), and President Obama signed it into law four days later. Since its implementation, the ALA Washington Office has been monitoring the distribution of the ARRA stimulus funds to libraries. Although the expenditure of stimulus funding is at times difficult to account for, our preliminary analysis of data from the government reveals that libraries are receiving funding from the Recovery Act. This funding has and is being awarded primarily through programs within three federal agencies – the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Education. In some cases, libraries are direct recipients of stimulus funds; in other instances and more often, libraries are partners with other organizations or belong to larger institutions or entities that have received stimulus funds.
From the Agriculture Department, libraries have been directly awarded more than $3.7 million in grants and loans for construction, equipment, and technology through the Community Facilities Program. Specifically, from the Ag. Department’s Rural Utilities Service’s (RUS) Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP), loans and grants were awarded for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas. Additional information about the program is available here.
Through the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), libraries have benefited from over $749.7 million in grants disturbed by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). These funds - awarded directly, in partnership with, or indirectly to libraries – are being used for broadband infrastructure, public computer centers and broadband adoption projects to expand the availability and use of broadband. An up-to-date list of grants awarded are available at the NTIA’s BroadbandUSA website.
Finally, from the Education Department, libraries (as parts of larger educational institutions and government entities) have indirectly benefited from over $9.6 billion in stimulus funds. Distributed through programs such as the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), this money was used primarily to create and retain jobs in education, including academic and school librarians.