AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUNDS FOR DIGITAL INCLUSION, LIBRARY/MUSEUM PARTNERSHIPS, AND DIGITAL RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provided the New York State Library with federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds through the LSTA Grants to States Program. The State Library has allocated almost $420,000 of these funds to RRLC to support digital inclusion, library/museum partnerships, and digital resources for students.
Digital Inclusion Projects
Total funds awarded: $315,491
Expanded Access to Digital Literacy Navigators in Libraries
RRLC is partnering with Literacy Rochester (LR) to expand digital literacy navigator volunteers into public libraries in Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, and Wyoming counties. Digital literacy navigators provide critical support to community members who need assistance with all things digital and computer-based. Libraries already provide that service to patrons but there are challenges – small # of staff/being short staffed or busy times with lots of visitors/high volume of circulation are two examples. Digital literacy navigator volunteers from LR will be working scheduled shifts at various libraries, which will allow patrons to walk in with no appointment necessary to receive help.
Prior to the pandemic, LR supported navigators in several Rochester Public Library branches. This partnership with RRLC has helped LR expand and build partnerships with other literacy organizations in the region, which will help move navigator services into libraries outside Monroe County. RRLC is supporting consulting and development partnerships between LR and three other organizations: Literacy Volunteers of Ontario-Yates, Literacy Volunteers of Wayne County, and Literacy West NY Inc. Each of the organizations will learn to implement a program based on the successful volunteer digital literacy navigator model, preparing them to run their own digital literacy navigator programs in the future.
The goal of this initiative is to place digital literacy volunteers in at least two new libraries in each of the five counties in RRLC’s service area, with the option to place more volunteers before the project end date (June 30, 2022). By partnering with LR and developing capacity at the other three literacy organizations, the positive impacts of this project will continue well beyond the end date.
Digital Equity Booths in Libraries
In tandem with digital literacy navigator expansion, RRLC will support six digital equity booths at libraries around the region. Booths are semi-private spaces where library patrons can access technology and the internet for their career, educational, and health needs.
Community member may need to use a digital equity booth because they lack:
- access to a private space
- access to technology or internet
- skills to make use technology/internet
- transportation to visit doctors or service providers
Participating libraries may make the booths available to their community members for a variety of tasks, such as:
- job interviews
- classes or training
- telehealth appointments with medical and mental health providers
- online meetings with legal professionals, case workers, or other service providers
- receiving assistance with completing online applications or forms that require private information
Booths will be hosted by three libraries in the Monroe County Library System and three libraries in the Pioneer Library System:
- Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County
- Lyell Branch of the Rochester Public Library
- Macedon Public Library
- Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the Rochester Public Library
- Pike Library
- Williamson Public Library
For libraries above that are also hosting a digital literacy navigator, there is an opportunity to train the navigator on the use of the booth so that the navigators may offer that option to patrons they are assisting with sensitive tasks and/or information. As of March 2022, the booths have been ordered and are in production. We expect the booths to be placed in each library by May 2022 at the latest. We are thrilled to support this new service at public libraries and better meet the needs of our community members.
Digital Literacy and Media Analysis Training Program
As we are building out the region-wide digital literacy navigator program and placing digital equity booths at libraries, we are also providing digital literacy and media analysis training to libraries, educators, and community partners. The goal of the program is to build a community enthusiasm for and understanding of critical thinking and digital media analysis, and to work directly with practitioners to integrate those concepts into their work. RRLC has hired Project Look Sharp, a nationally-recognized organization in the area of digital literacy, to provide this training program. Thirty attendees from libraries and community based organizations are attending the training, which began in January and will conclude in June 2022. Project Look Sharp provided four foundational training sessions about digital literacy and question-based media analysis in January & February, and worked with the attendees to form four cohort groups: two public library groups, one community based group, and one school library group. Each cohort will meet with Project Look Sharp throughout February – May to develop a plan for integrating digital literacy & questions-based analysis into their work with patrons, clients, and students.
The program will culminate in a final session in June 2022 where all attendees will have the opportunity to share their experience and the materials they created, and to talk about next steps for continuing to practice these concepts in their work.
Assistive Technology Grant Program for Pioneer Library System
RRLC is providing a $20,000 subaward to the Pioneer Library System to support an Assistive Technology Grant program for member libraries. The goal of the program is to provide individuals who are blind or who have a physical disability, seniors, and people who have a developmental or learning disability with increased accessibility to library materials, programming, and services. Assistive technology equipment will allow community members who would otherwise not have access to library-sponsored internet-enabled devices the opportunity to interact with this equipment, which will better meet their needs. Libraries oer day-to-day technical support for a variety of technologies; this grant will eliminate barriers to access by providing assistive technology for those who need it. Assistive technology will enable self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration by allowing community members to engage with technology with the aid of assistive devices designed to support their specific circumstances and needs.
Library/Museum Partnership Project
Total funds awarded: $52,430
Empire State Digital Asset Management
RRLC is collaborating with the Northern NY Library Network to develop an open source digital asset management system for museums & libraries. The system, built on the open source Archipelago platform created by the METRO library council, will enable museums & libraries to store and manage digital assets and related metadata for greater discovery and access. This system is intended to relieve libraries and museums of the high administrative and technical burden associated with most open source platforms, provide a cost-eective alternative to expensive vendor hosting, and encourage collaboration and sharing. We envision that this system will serve as a foundation for future museum/library partnerships and collaborations, which could include features like collaborative digital exhibits and digital preservation.
There are a variety of library & museum partners working on this project:
- Frederic Remington Museum
- Lake Placid Public Library
- Rochester Public Library
- St. Lawrence University
- The Strong National Museum of Play
From the RRLC region, the Rochester Public Library is acting as a contributor, working with the system, uploading objects, and testing workflows. The Strong National Museum of Play is acting as a project advisor, assisting with defining the object description fields consistent with library, archival, and museum practices. As of March 2022, the contributors have begun uploading single items and batch ingests into the system, and are working to customize the metadata fields to their particular needs.
At the end of the project, we expect to have a basic working system, with a variety of digital assets (could include image files, PDFs, videos, oral histories, etc.) and corresponding metadata from each of our contributor partners. These assets will be available for viewing online at subdomains of ESDAM.org. Contributing organizations will configure the system to show all or some of the items to the general public, curate which metadata fields display in the public view, and can link directly from their organization’s web site to the online portal.
Expanding Student Access to Digital Resources in the Greater Rochester Area
Total funds awarded: $51,483
Through RRLC, each of the five School Library Systems in the Rochester region will use ARPA funds to increase student access to digital content by purchasing materials that will be available to students within the school districts served by the school library systems. Content purchases will include new e- books, e-audiobooks, and e-magazines, and will provide students with:
- increased access to multilingual content
- increased opportunities to read outside of school
- more culturally relevant content
- content that supports students’ social & emotional needs
- increased availability of popular and in-demand titles
- materials that align with NYSED’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Framework
Each school library system will focus on a specific set of resources to meet the needs of students in their districts:
Genesee Valley BOCES School Library System plans to purchase Sora e-books and e-audiobooks in order to provide more titles and additional copies of popular titles. By purchasing One Copy/One User e-books, they will ensure that materials will be available to enhance the collection for the long term. These titles will also help students learn about several of the unifying Social Studies themes. Selected titles relate to the role of diversity within and among cultures, aspects of cultures such as belief systems, religious faith, or political ideals as influences on other parts of a culture, and cultural diffusion and change over time. Many titles support the New York State Social Emotional Learning framework encouraging perseverance, healthy ways of dealing with bullying and handling stress, and empathizing with others from diverse viewpoints. These materials will support learning across various curriculum areas.
Monroe 1 BOCES School Library System plans to purchase e-books and e-audiobooks and will make the resources available through the Monroe 1 BOCES Regional OverDrive collection on the Sora platform. The collection is available to all teachers and students in the Monroe 1 BOCES region. Purchasing will focus on e-audio books that correspond with the existing collection of curricular related e-books, as well as new e-book and e-audio books focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Social Emotional learning. These new titles will help meet the needs of all students, but especially those with print disabilities and who are English Language Learners. This project will provide better access to digital resources for students pursuing reading for their curricular and social emotional needs. All titles purchased will be in the One Copy/One User format, which have no expiration.
Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES School Library System plans to purchase e-books in order to expand and develop the regional OverDrive collection, which is available to students and teachers in the Monroe 2 Orleans Region. This project will place a priority on purchasing materials through a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion lens. The School Library System is already working with OverDrive to perform a diversity audit of the collection, and is working on a professional development workshop for member librarians on conducting diversity audits for their own collections. The workshop will feature titles that have been purchased with ARPA funds.
Rochester City School District School Library System plans to purchase e-books that will be owned by the School Library System and not based on a subscription. With the addition of these new items in the digital catalog, students will have increased opportunities to read outside of school. RCSD students have 1:1 devices as well as MiFi, which means there are fewer obstacles to providing digital resources. This project will focus on books that are culturally relevant, cover tough topics like social emotional needs, and high interest titles/topics. This project will increase the number and variety of digital oerings to students and sta, and will enable students and sta to utilize these new resources for educational pursuits.
Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES School Library System plans to purchase multilingual e-books and e-audiobooks for the School Library System’s Sora platform. The titles purchased will be based on data provided by the Mid-West Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network about languages spoken at home by English as a Native Language and Multilingual Learner students in the Wayne-Finger Lakes region. This project will provide increased access to multilingual content to native and non-native English speakers, promote literacy & K-12 ELA standards, and encourage family literacy efforts at home for non-native English speaking families in the region.