METRO DETROIT — Patrons of seven local libraries now have access to a host of new digital materials, thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The act designated $200 million in pandemic response funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services — $4 million of which was allotted to state library administrative agencies in Michigan for digital materials.
Residents across all 83 Michigan counties now have access to the digital material purchased with this funding — over $870,000 of which was designated for new content through the Lakeland Library Cooperative’s “MI-83 Digital Library Connection Grant.”
The MI-83 Digital Library Connection Grant brings new digital content to individual libraries, shared content groups, and libraries that have never been able to offer digital content to their communities, enabling all Michigan residents to benefit from the federal funds.
Locally, the Metro Net Library Consortium — a shared content group created in 2013 that includes the Baldwin, Bloomfield Township, Canton, Farmington, Rochester, Southfield and West Bloomfield public libraries — pooled their nearly $17,000 in funding to purchase digital materials in the OverDrive platform to benefit all the communities they serve.
The Baldwin, Bloomfield Township, Farmington, Rochester Hills, Southfield and West Bloomfield public libraries were each awarded $2,225, while the Canton library received $3,625 in grant funding.
Using the shared funds, the Metro Net Library Consortium was able to purchase a total of 534 new nonfiction titles — 425 e-books and 139 e-audiobooks — in 17 genres, including mental health, workforce development, job seeking skills, health and general educational needs.
“In doing our research, we know that 30% of our community members prefer e-books and e-audiobooks as their method of experiencing library materials, so having this injection of funds helps us reach those individuals specifically, and often times that has overlap with individuals who are seeking more education opportunities and workforce development enhancements,” said Juliane Morian, the director of the Rochester Hills Public Library. “Obviously, with the great resignation, we’re seeing many individuals step off their current career path and explore an entirely new one, so we think this will help them, expose them to new directions, new upskilling, and increase their overall candidacy in the job force market.”
“There are lots of mental health books, books on careers, and test prep for teenagers and adults. There are also books that we purchased on grief. We know that a lot of people lost their loved ones during this pandemic,” Bloomfield Township Public Library Adult Services Librarian Karrie Yukon added.
Because the average cost for an e-book or e-audiobook ranges from $3 to $65, library officials said acquiring these materials may not have been possible without the grant.
Library cardholders can access e-books, e-audiobooks, and other digital content online by signing in to OverDrive or by downloading the Libby app for mobile devices.
In 2021, the seven Metro Net Library Consortium member libraries began sharing e-book and e-audiobook titles that were six months or older and not bound by checkout limits in an effort to expand the availability of popular titles. Checkouts for e-books and audiobooks range from seven to 21 days.
“This is a greater level of access, ease of use and efficiency. We don’t want even our e-books to just be sitting on the shelf. If nobody in our home community is using it, we are happy to make it available through reciprocal borrowing to a fellow community member,” she explained.
To access the shared material, library users sign in with their library card bar code and PIN at metronet.overdrive.com.
“We’re featuring the collection that was purchased with ARPA funds on our Metro Net landing page for OverDrive, so patrons will see that first when it pops up right at the top,” Yukon said. “OverDrive offers patrons a really great way to interact with the library, even if they are still concerned about going into the public and coming into a building. Instead, they can just download it onto their device.”
For more information, contact your local library.