The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) has awarded a $1,000 PPE grant to both the Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar and the Stillwater Public Library to help the organizations purchase personal protective equipment and supplies to keep staff and visitors safer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Stillwater History Museum and Stillwater Public Library are two of 64 institutions to receive a grant from ODL courtesy of the federal CARES Act and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). A total of $60,000 was distributed by ODL to address the coronavirus concerns of public libraries, tribal libraries, tribal cultural centers, museums, and historic sites in the state.
“The library will use its grant funds to continue providing cleaning items, masks, and other remediation supplies as we learn about new, effective methods for preventing exposures,” said Stacy DeLano, library director. “The grant will help us reach our goal of keeping the library open for all users by reducing the chance of an exposure occurring in the facility.”
“It looks like we may be dealing with this virus for some time, so it’s very important that we follow CDC guidelines as we open up services to the public,” Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar’s Director, Amelia Chamberlain, said. “This grant will provide supplies we need to help reduce risk of exposure for our employees and customers.”
“Our mission is to serve our community, and we want to continue that mission in the safest way we can,” Chamberlain and DeLano agreed. The City of Stillwater currently requires people to wear masks in public places.
The Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar is currently open to the public for regular hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum staff limits the number of people in the building at one time and provides sanitation supplies and guidance at a sanitation station next to the Museum entrance. Visitors entering are directed down the ramp while those exiting are directed up the stairs to provide social distancing.
During July and August, family-friendly activity is being offered from 1-4 p.m. Reservations are required for each 30-minute time slot that will accommodate one family or group of up to 10 people. For those hesitant to venture out, the museum offers a virtual tour. A link to the tour can be found at the top of the webpage at sheerarmuseum.org.
The Stillwater Public Library is also operating at normal hours and limited capacity. Visitors check-in at the library’s SW lobby and have one hour to use a computer, browse for books, or perform other library activities. Programming takes place online, and meeting rooms with reduced capacity are available for use. Curbside book service and telephone and online reference assistance are available for those who prefer to delay their in-person visits.
In developing the PPE grant, ODL Director Melody Kellogg said institutions were surveyed about any hurdles they might face in returning to service during the pandemic.
The top concerns of libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions were a shortage of cleaning supplies and PPE equipment, fear on the part of staff and the public, and the challenge of enforcing social distancing and other best-health practices in their facilities.
“We developed the grant proposal to help address these concerns,” Kellogg said. “We were very fortunate in that we were able to provide some funding to all 64 of the eligible institutions that applied.”
The PPE grant is the first of two that will be available from ODL, with funding from IMLS and the CARES Act. The grants were designed to help the state’s important cultural institutions address two impacts of COVID-19: public health concerns, and the need to breach the digital divide and improve digital inclusion to better serve the public.
“The pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the digital divide in our state and nation,” Kellogg said. “At a time when, for safety reasons, we are depending more than ever on electronic communication, far too many of our fellow citizens don’t have the tools or access needed to take advantage of important services.”
Recipients of the Digital Inclusion Grants, totaling $291,320, will be announced later in July.
A complete list of Oklahoma’s 64 PPE Grant recipients is at news.oklibshare.org/federal-funding/odl-awards-cares-act-ppe-grants-to-64-institutions.