Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett presented ceremonial checks representing two grants to the Greeneville-Greene County Public Library and the T. Elmer Cox Historical and Genealogical Library Thursday that will help expand services to the community.
Hargett presented checks for a $8,292 Tennessee State Library Association Technology Grant and a $2,177 CARES grant. The technology grant will provide for the purchase of two digital microfilm scanners to provide greater public access to newspapers and other historical documents at the T. Elmer Cox facility, and the CARES grant will provide for laptop computers that will be loaned out to library patrons.
The technology grant is available to libraries each year through federal funds distributed by the State Library Association, Library Director Erin Evans explained.
The grant is designed to help libraries keep their technology resources up to date and can be used to replace aging computers, install new routers and other technology needs, she said.
Updates have been made at the main library through past grants and this year’s allocation is to be used for the Cox Library, explained Assistant Library Director Christopher Gose.
Two digital microfilm scanners will be purchased with the grant, Gose explained. “We are very excited about the grant and what it will enable us to do,” he said.
The scanners are the size of a briefcase, much smaller than microfilm reader machines, he said.
With the assistance of library staff, patrons will be able to conduct searches and view whole newspaper pages on the scanner or enlarge the view to a specific article, Gose continued.
The scanners will be powered by two desktop computers and be connected to oversize monitors, which will allow the viewing of a whole page, he said. The grant will cover the cost of the scanners, computers and monitors and the software needed to operate the system.
The scanners will also provide the capability to copy a page, article or document and convert it to a PDF. Those PDFs can then be downloaded to the library’s webpage, providing access to people who are not able to come physically to the facility, Gose explained.
Evans added that the State Library Association negotiated with the company supplying the scanner system and libraries are able to purchase it half of the normal price.
The CARES grant was also distributed by the state through the State Library Association. With that grant, the library has ordered four Google Chromebooks. Once they are delivered and filtering software is installed, the laptops will be made available for patrons to borrow.
“One of the things that many in the community come in to the library to use is the computers,” she said. “This will allow people to loan out a computer and take it home.”
In addition, the grant will provide funds to allow the library to purchase video conferencing software. Once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, the software will be available for organizations or others to use in the community room to do a video conference, she said.
Libraries were also eligible to seek funds for supplies that have been needed due to the pandemic, such as the acrylic shields now in place at its circulation desk, Evans continued. The library will also use some of the grant funds toward the purchase of such supplies as masks, gloves and sanitizing wipes, she said.
“The state provided those funds so that libraries could purchase all the COVID-19 supplies they need, but not use their regular budgets,” Evans said.