By Chance Chamberlain
The Cass County Public Library has plans to improve the quality of service for patrons and to better improve safety for employees thanks to two grants the library has received for COVID-19 relief due to closure and the need to adapt to the current social climate.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced recently the Missouri State Library awarded the Cass County Public Library a grant in the amount of $18,787. The grant was awarded in response to COVID health and safety concerns.
The library will use the grant to purchase devices for each branch to improve the quality of service for patrons and to better improve safety for employees.
Library Assistant Director Dan Brower said, “This grant is really great for our library. It will allow us to purchase devices for each of our branches so that employees can facilitate virtual meetings, so that they can maintain social distancing. It will also provide the library with upgraded internet routers at each branch that will extend WiFi signal to the parking lot so that our patrons can use the internet from the safety of their vehicles.
“The grant will cover a self-checkout service that will help us prevent the spread of COVID when using our services,” he said. “One of the biggest things that it is doing is helping get new computers for each branch that will be used for browsing our catalog so that face to face interactions can be limited between patrons and employees.”
Brower added, “The last thing that we will be using the grant for is the purchasing of laptops for circulation. These devices will be available for checkout by library card holders and will be used to maintain social distancing.
“Basically, the grant provides us with technology needed in order to keep people safe due to COVID-19.”
The library also received a grant through the Department of Economic Development to improve the internet bandwidth at all locations so the library’s service is more effective and easier to access for patrons in the building and in the parking lot that are using their WiFi.
Brower said, “Because we have had to change our internet service to be available in the parking lot of each library, we decided that we should upgrade our service so that we can serve our patrons to the best of our ability. This grant will serve to upgrade bandwidth and increase effectiveness of our WiFi access.
“Once the upgrades are finished, patrons will experience high-speed internet from the
parking lot at every location. Now, I will forewarn, this grant is pending approval so upgrades will not be coming for a couple of months,” he said.
The library is getting a countywide upgrade and Brower said it means a lot because it shows that the community still cares about the library.
“It feels really great to know that the county and the community support and believe in us as a library. It really shows that they believe that we are helping the community,” he said.
“It is also great to see that the government cares about maintaining a good library to serve the people of Cass County. The support and the upgrades we will be receiving really feel like the beginning of a new era for the library.”
The Cass County Public Library also received reimbursement funds to pay for any expenses for personal protective equipment and the rearrangement of computers for
social distancing due to COVID-19.
The reimbursement funds are from the first round of CARES funding from the federal government. Funds will also be used to purchase sneeze guards (plastic shields and masks) for all library facilities.
The library has not announced plans for reopening at this time.
Brower said, “There are a lot of exciting things coming at the library to facilitate social distancing and to keep our patrons and employees safe. The upgrades are a process and they will take a little while but, it will be worth the wait.”