Shelf Talk 38: ARPA Grant


The Mississippi County Library System (MCLS) is honored to be a recipient of over $40,000 in ARPA grant funding! This funding is made possible with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act Grants to States program and administered by the Arkansas State Library.


What will MCLS do with this funding? Take care of our customers, of course!

Funding must be spent according to the following IMLS focus areas:


Information Access:

MCLS has purchased a modern microform machine, replacing an older model that no longer functions. It is the only microform machine available to the public in Mississippi County, and gives access to the only existing archival copies of local papers. Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC) is loaning the MCLS microfilm newspaper editions for the decades we have only in hard copy, thus giving us a complete archive dating back nearly 100 years!


This microform reader will be much more user-friendly than the previous machine, and will digitize pages onto a large monitor. Customers will be able to access the machine with minimal staff assistance and will be able to easily view content, select portions of pages, and print their selections. Come by the Blytheville Library to read local news from the day you were born, find photos from your childhood t-ball league, get a copy of a loved one’s obituary, and more.


Institutional Capacity:

The Manila Library is adding an outdoor book drop! This will allow customers to return borrowed materials at their convenience, without having to enter the building. It will also serve as additional signage, pointing potential customers to the location and purpose of our building.


The Blytheville Library has new DVD shelving! During the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced increased customer demand for in-home entertainment. A complete inventory of our collection and focused development led to increased DVD offerings. Come browse our DVD collection and choose the title that’s just right for movie night!


Targeted Audiences:

The Keiser, Manila, and Wilson libraries are adding AWE Learning Stations! The AWE Learning Stations are designed to help our youngest customers become comfortable with using a computer, keyboard, and mouse. They are loaded with 75+ STREAM-aligned, award-winning, educational software titles. Through playing learning games, our preschool customers and their families will learn about cyber safety, life science (including self-care, community roles, and basic language skills), early math and literacy, early financial management, and technology skills.


Enhanced Technology:

The Blytheville and Osceola libraries are each receiving 6 brand new public computers! The current computers are almost 8 years old, run slowly, and have software that is no longer compatible with customer need. COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of technology literacy. During the pandemic, MCLS libraries were the only spaces in our county that offered public access to computers and internet. Our community has become increasingly dependent on these computers to conduct regular business, but outdated software has caused compatibility issues and a slow interface has caused customer frustration.


MCLS is also updating staff technology. Staff work computers endure heavy use and are the backbone of library technology. Our System cataloger, 2 branch managers, and Director need upgrades to more efficient and reliable technology. Our PR staff person is responsible for producing System video and graphics content, and needs a machine capable of running Adobe editing software.

We are looking forward to these changes, and hope you are, too! Stop by one of our libraries to see our updates, and grab a book while you’re here! If you have an idea for a service or resource the Mississippi County Library System could provide or would like to volunteer at one of our library branches, let us know! As always, feel free to contact me at broberts@mclibrary.net anytime with questions or suggestions.


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