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Grant funding makes a huge difference for one local library

The impact of grant funding to expand and improve resources is seen in Hagerman
The library can also be used as a way to connect people to jobs, schooling and community...
The library can also be used as a way to connect people to jobs, schooling and community resources.(KMVT)
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 3:43 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — As technology and services change, so do libraries.

No longer only home for books, the library connects people to necessary jobs, schooling and community resources.

“Libraries are helping keep students learning, adults earning and meeting the health and well-being needs of Idahoans,” said Stephanie Bailey-White, the state librarian with the Idaho Commission for Libraries.

This has been even more so the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with online resources in high demand. Some libraries have aided in telehealth operations.

Others have helped expand virtual learning and job resources in their communities.

The impact of grant funding to expand and improve resources is seen in Hagerman, where CARES Act funding was used to upgrade the speed, range and reliability of the library’s wi-fi.

Since then, the usage of their wi-fi has risen dramatically.

“We have a report now that will show 176 users in a month where when we tracked it we had about 25,” said Geri Omohundro, the director of the Hagerman Public Library. “It’s really a necessity I think for a small town. We’re a little bit isolated and it’s free.”

Other upgrades at this library thanks to grant funding in recent years include the upgrading of their outdoor patio, allowing for those not comfortable indoors to work outside, and the ability to give STEM kits to children as part of their summer reading program as a way of enhancing student learning while school was out of session.

“It was a great service to the community, and we had about 40 to 45 kids and lunches on Fridays,” said Omohundro.

And Hagerman Public Library is not the only library in the state that is a sought after resource.

The most recently available data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows Idaho is top 5 among states in the nation for number of library visits per capita.

“I think more and more people realize the resources libraries have. They are the community connector,” said Bailey-White.

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