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US agriculture department allots $100 million funding for rural libraries -

The US’ Secretary of Agriculture has announced the allocation of $100 million in funding for public libraries to provide educational opportunities and improve public services in rural communities. The funding – from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities - will be provided primarily through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Specifically set aside for rural libraries, the aid is seen as a lifeline for communities across the country who depend on their local libraries for their basic needs. These include Internet access as well as assistance with e-government services, literacy and homework programmes. Funds may be used to construct, enlarge or improve public libraries. This can cover costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees and purchase equipment required for operation. Funds can also be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment and bookmobiles.

Depending on funding availability, USDA Rural Development will provide up to $500,000 in additional Recovery Act dedicated grant funds to each of the State Offices for library projects.

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