March marks one year since the pandemic truly hit home for us. On March 18, 2020, our libraries temporarily closed to the public so we could figure out how to keep our staff and customers safe. We had no idea at that time that our buildings would be closed for six weeks, and that our entire business model would be altered for so long.
Since we reopened in May 2020, we’ve been operating with limited in-person services and a whole new slate of virtual programming that has kept our community entertained and informed throughout the pandemic. Just about everything you could do at the library in person you can now do online, in the form of a live online class, virtual event, streaming performance or on-demand video. That shift to virtual events, experiences and programs came with some costs – we needed to have access to online classrooms and streaming platforms, and we needed to purchase new tools, like webcams and microphones and greenscreen backgrounds that would make broadcasting live online feel like a seamless transition for our audiences.
So we’re grateful to be the recipient of CARES Act funding made available through the Institute for Museum and Library Services. In 2020, the IMLS administered more than $13 million to support museums and libraries responding to the pandemic. We received $64,689 in assistance from the state’s DLIS Florida CARES Act program, administered by the Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services, from the IMLS. The money has helped us purchase equipment, accessories and services to support virtual programs, events and classes. It has also helped us purchase PPE for staff and customers, as well as STEM learning kits to be distributed to children over the summer.
As you flip through these pages and read about the programs we’re offering this month, know that the IMLS funding and the CARES Act has made this wide variety of events and programs possible. Those funds support everything from author events and live online classes taught by Melrose Center instructors, to storytimes and programs for seniors.