IL public libraries get support from state grant

ELKVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White dished out $15.4 million in state funding to 630 public libraries in the state through the FY18 Illinois Per Capita and Equalization Aid Grant, giving libraries who applied extra cash to support costs.

The grant money is split between hundreds of libraries and the amount each receives is based on the population of the area that they serve. So larger communities qualified for much larger sums of money.

For example, the Carbondale Public Library received $32,377.50 whereas the Rick Warren Memorial Public Library District, just 15 minutes north in Elkville, only got $3,885.

President of the Rick Warren Public Library District board, Mary Ann Horstmann, said even though it's significantly less than the amount of some other cities, every little bit helps to cover costs.

For this grant specifically, Horstmann said it will be used to help cover the salaries of the two part-time librarians who work at Rick Warren Memorial Library.

For everything else, like buying new books, she said they need to budget what they get from taxes and other grants.

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Horstmann said the day and age we live in makes it harder to run a small public library with things like high-speed internet and technology upgrades.

"It's harder because it's more costly," she said, "we used to only have two computers. Now we have six for the people to use, and four of them are already outdated, and we're going to have to buy four new ones."

Even small libraries like Rick Warren Memorial have to keep up with these new upgrades because Horstmann said many of the people who use the library come in to use the computers and get online more than checking out books these days.

Rick Warren Memorial Public Library regular, Darcel Hensley said she comes in just about every day to check her emails, play a game or two, and get on Facebook. She thinks even though libraries seem to be less about books these days, they still have a place in small towns like Elkville, especially when it comes to kids.

"Sure, they're on the computer playing games," she said, "but at least it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble."

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