Tester Secures Nearly $100,000 to Help Montana Libraries Expand Access During COVID-19 Pandemic

Funding will help Montana students maintain access to critical online services during crisis

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $96,573 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for Montana libraries to expand online services in remote areas that have little access to broadband. This will help meet the needs of students in frontier areas as they continue online learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Students in Montana’s frontier communities are struggling to stay connected and get the resources they need as they try to access education online with limited broadband. At the same time, Montana libraries are straining to meet this increased demand for resources,” said Tester. “This funding will help Montana libraries adapt to online learning and continue to offer critical support for students and communities during the COVID-19 crisis.”

This funding was allocated by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as part of $50 million they received through the CARES Act. The State Library Commission and Montana Libraries plan to use the funds to supplement investments in:

  • Expanding digital network access in Montana’s frontier communities where such access is lacking, including investing in new routers to replace routers that are five or more years old or libraries that report unreliable service;
  • Purchasing at least two hotspots per library, including providing additional hotspots to 10 libraries based on need;
  • Contracting with an online reading program to encourage reading and to prevent the summer reading slide.
  • Allocating additional aid for technical support services in response to the disruption of schooling and other community services during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Investing in MontanaLibrary2Go, an e-book and e-audio service, in an effort to provide more content and resources to supplement students’ online learning in relation to the increased demand in content and holds.

As a former teacher and school board member, Tester has been fighting tooth and nail to ensure Montana students have the resources they need to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, he announced more than $41 million for Montana K-12 schools to help meet the needs of students as they transition to online learning. Earlier this month, he announced that the Montana Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund would receive more than $8.7 million in funding to bolster education in the state. Additionally, Tester introduced bipartisan legislation to provide $2 billion in funding for rural communities in an effort to keep internet service available and affordable for low-income families in underserved areas.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montanans have the resources they need throughout the COVID-19 crisis. After 72 hours negotiating substantial, bipartisan improvements to COVID-19 stimulus legislation that had previously fallen far short for Montana, Tester voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana workers, families, small businesses, hospitals and others hardest hit by the outbreak, which included $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak