Local libraries receive grants

Patrick Traylor

Patrick Traylor

By Whitney Blair Wyckoff

Two local public libraries and two area school district libraries will receive grants from Secretary of State Jesse White, which they will use to buy books, CDs and DVDs, items they may not have been able to afford otherwise.

The Champaign Public Library, the Urbana Free Library, and the libraries in Champaign Unit 4 Schools and Urbana School District #116 are going to receive the grants. The Champaign Public Library will receive more than $83,000; the Urbana Free Library will receive more than $46,000; Unit 4 libraries will receive more than $6,000; and Urbana School District will receive more than $3,000.

“Local money is never enough,” said Frederick Schlipf, director of the Urbana Free Library. He said the Urbana Free Library is one of the most heavily used libraries in the state, and the grants help the library to meet demand.

Mary Bissey, assistant director of the Champaign Public Library, said the grants are something they have come to depend on.

“With the budget being short for the last two or three years, (schools in our district) haven’t been able to contribute to the library costs like they have in past years,” said Addie Williams, secretary to director of elementary curriculum for the Champaign Unit 4 Schools. The grants help ends meet but do not completely make up for gaps in funding, she said.

Funds are allocated based on the number of residents or students the library caters to. Public library per capita grants have been around since the early 1970s, and school library per capita grants were first distributed in 1994. Illinois is the first state to offer such grants to libraries, said Pat McGuckin, director of communications at the Illinois State Library. All four libraries have received the grants every year for several years.

“We appreciate this funding,” said Martha Rinne, library program coordinator of Urbana School District #116. “Every little bit helps.”