Pawhuska Library receives grant to add Wireless Access Points

Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) has awarded a $1,347 Digital Inclusion grant to Pawhuska Public Library to help the library expand access to digital information and resources.

Pawhuska Public Library is one of 50 institutions to receive the grant from ODL courtesy of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). A total of $290,000 was distributed to public libraries, tribal libraries and cultural centers, museums, and literacy programs to improve digital access during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Pawhuska Public Library’s Director Yvonne Rose said the funding was used to purchase and install two outdoor Wireless Access Points to expand the library’s Wi-Fi reach to cover the library’s parking areas and west lawn. Wi-Fi access will be available 24/7. User name is the word Library with capital letter “L.” Users must accept/click Rules at time of use. No password is needed.

“We are excited to offer this improved Wi-Fi service," Rose said. "Previously library patrons have often needed to stand under the library’s front portico area to receive the Wi-Fi signal on a laptop, tablet, or phone. The improved Wi-Fi will assist Internet access for all Pawhuskans, including students engaged in distance learning.”

Pawhuska Public Library is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; closed Saturday and Sunday. Phone is 918-287-3989. Website is Pawhuska.okpls.org. Books and other materials are available for checkout; computers are available on a first-come basis. For reference assistance, call or come to the library. Two meeting spaces are available by reservation. Call the library for additional information.

The most recent Census data shows 76% of Oklahoma households are connected to broadband Internet. According to ODL Director Melody Kellogg, “that leaves a lot of people having to depend on free public access in order to locate and use the digital information and services they need.”

“We already have a digital divide in Oklahoma and across the country,” Kellogg said, “The pandemic has just made the divide harsher since libraries and other places that offer this free access may be closed or only offering limited services at this time.”

Kellogg said Congress provided for CARES Act funds to help libraries, museums and tribal nations bridge this divide.

Grant applicants asked for a variety of products to meet the particular needs of their communities. Some requested equipment to expand the reach of their Wi-Fi access, while others requested hotspots for checkout, or laptops and tablets for checkout or to expand access inside their building.

In addition, the CARES Act provided grants to help libraries and cultural institutions procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff and customers. ODL distributed $60,000 in PPE grants in June and July to 64 institutions.