ALA, Capital One announce 20 rural libraries selected for Community Connect: Digital Access at Home grants

For Immediate Release
Tue, 10/20/2020


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) and Capital One announced 20 public libraries selected to participate in Community Connect: Digital Access at Home, a program supporting digital access and financial capability for rural communities nationwide.

The selected libraries represent communities in 14 states across the country. They include Washington County Public Library, a rural four-branch system serving 3,600 people in the Florida Panhandle; Camp Verde Community Library, a central Arizona town of 10,000 in the Verde River Valley; and Estill County Public Library in Irvine, Kentucky, located 120 miles east of Louisville.

“Estill County, Kentucky is poor and underserved,” wrote Lesa Ledford of the Estill County Public Library in her winning proposal. “Grandkids are being raised by their grandparents by the hundreds in this county. Seven out of ten kids qualify for free lunch at school. Only 7.3 percent of homes have broadband access. This grant will change lives.”

View the full list of participating libraries.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus, Americans are increasingly reliant on broadband for the delivery of essential services like education and tele-medicine. Data from the Federal Communications Commission indicates that 22 percent of Americans in rural areas and 28 percent of Americans living on tribal lands lack broadband coverage.

“More than 170 rural libraries applied to be part of the Community Connect program — an incredible response that demonstrates the great sense of responsibility and enthusiasm that library workers feel for providing these vital services,” said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. “During this difficult time, ALA is proud to partner with Capital One to help rural libraries get the resources they need to serve their communities and help them thrive.”

“Capital One recognizes that digital access is a lever that has the potential to unlock opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, and employment, as well as increased connections to health, financial well-being, and other services that are increasingly only accessible online,” said Mariadele Priest, Senior Director of Community Impact & Investment at Capital One. “We are proud to support these 20 libraries as part of our recently announced Capital One Impact Initiative that aims to close gaps in opportunity and equity in underserved communities. Community Connect underscores the need for digital access in rural communities, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that exacerbates existing digital inequalities.” 

Community Connect seeks to expand the service capacity of rural libraries by offering hotspot lending policies and financial capability seminars; improve the digital access of rural library patrons via hotspots and enhance opportunities for social mobility by pursuing remote education, economic inclusion, financial management and health; and demonstrate the efficacy of the pilot program and use results to build consensus on how to address sustainable digital inclusion for rural communities.

Participating libraries will receive:

Applicants were judged by peer reviewers on several criteria, including programming and hotspot lending plans, involvement of partner organizations and community need. Following the definitions of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), public libraries were eligible if they serve a legal service area population of 25,000 or less and are in a rural community at least five miles from an urbanized area.

Community Connect: Digital Access at Home will be managed by ALA’s Public Programs Office.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types. Learn more at

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation is headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Its subsidiaries, Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities — good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families — benefits us all, and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.