UI library system receives nearly $50,000 from state for pandemic recovery


The Daily Illini Photo File

Students studying at the main stacks of the main library on April 30, 2019. The UI library system has been provided with grants as aid during the pandemic.

By Vivian La, Assistant Daytime Editor

Last week, the University library system received two grants from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to help with COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The grant amounts were $25,000 and $24,686, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office.

Christopher Prom, associate dean for Digital Strategies, said the money will be used to meet student needs, especially at this stage of the pandemic.

“Almost every library and every campus unit had a variety of impacts when the pandemic hit us,” Prom said. “So what we’ll plan to apply the grant when we receive it toward are meeting some of those excess costs that we had seen.”

One example of shifting needs was the increased use of digital resources like online copies of books. Prom said the grant money could help offset costs of buying digital copies.

Since the start of the pandemic, Prom said they’ve spent over $100,000 purchasing extra digital copies of various books.

“That was really something we were happy to do because it helped us meet the needs of people who couldn’t come into campus, or who were remote or who couldn’t get access to those print books,” he said.

For this semester, Prom said the University Library will continue to support online instruction as much as possible, as well as create library spaces for collaboration.

The University Library was one of 211 academic, school, special and public libraries across Illinois to receive funding, which totaled $5.7 million. Grant awards ranged from $5,000 to $1 million.

Funding sources included the federal American Rescue Plan Act, the federal Library Services and Technology Act and state technology funds.

Prom said that while the $50,000 will make up just a small portion of the University Library’s budget, it’s important to recognize the benefits these grants will bring for smaller libraries.

“They may have had some pretty significant impacts just given the fact that they are serving (the) local community in places that don’t have the size of a support system that we have here,” he said.

Prom said at the end of the day, the University Library is the major research library in the state but lots of other libraries need support.

“It’s worth noting that (the grants) are also benefiting a lot of, a lot of smaller libraries and really a wide range of institutions throughout the state,” he said.

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