Ardmore libraries among dozens awarded CARES Act grants for COVID-19 response

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite
An employee at the Ardmore Public Library uses an ultraviolet light disinfecting device to sterilize a computer. The device was purchased with funds from the CARES Act grant.

Several local libraries have more tools in the fight against COVID-19 thanks to grants to help them purchase personal protective equipment and supplies to keep staff and visitors safe during the pandemic. 

The Ardmore Public Library and Southern Oklahoma Library System were among 64 institutions to receive a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries in July. As a result, Ardmore Public Library employees on Thursday had many of these tools in use.

The funding is courtesy of the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the federal CARES Act legislation. A total of $60,000 was distributed to libraries across the state, with the Ardmore Public Library receiving $1,000 and the Southern Oklahoma Library System receiving $4,000. 

Ardmore Public Library Director Daniel Gibbs said in a July 14 press release, the funding was for masks, a handheld ultraviolet sterilizer and sanitizing supplies for library staff and customers. 

“It looks like we may be dealing with this virus for some time, so it’s very important that we follow CDC guidelines as we provide services to the public,” Gibbs said. “This grant will provide supplies we need to help reduce risk of exposure for our employees and customers.” 

An employee at the Ardmore Public Library wears a face shield purchased with funds from the CARES Act grant while working the library front desk on Wednesday.

In developing the grant, ODL Director Melody Kellogg said institutions were surveyed about any hurdles they might face in returning to service during the pandemic and top concerns of libraries were a shortage of cleaning supplies and PPE equipment. 

“We developed the grant proposal to help address these concerns,” Kellogg said. “We were very fortunate in that we were able to provide some funding to all 64 of the eligible institutions that applied.”

The PPE grant is the first of two that will be available from ODL, with funding from IMLS and the CARES Act. The grants were designed to help state institutions like libraries address public health concerns associated with COVID-19 and improve digital inclusion to better serve the public. 

The Ardmore Public Library temporarily closed in March but reopened to the public during the first week of June. Library hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

There is a limit of 50 people in the building at a time. Half of the public computers are available for a maximum of one hour. 

Much of the library seating has been removed to establish space for social distancing and the library will still be providing curbside service. “Our mission is to serve our community, and we want to continue that mission in the safest way we can,” Gibbs said. 

Personal protective equipment for Ardmore Public Library staff purchased with CARES Act grant funds.