The Jefferson City Public Library received some assistance to boost its technological capacity on Friday.
The library was presented with a Library Technology Grant from Tennessee State Library and Archives for $6,856. Secretary of State Tre Hargett said rural counties like Jefferson need local support, as well as grant money like Friday’s contribution to help the population of their residents.
“So many people depend on the computers and Internet at the library because this is the only place they can get it,” he said. “That’s why these grants are so important.”
David Phillips, library director, said the grant is important because the facility is about more than just books, but a place for technologies the public can utilize when it needs to.
“That’s how we want to be seen,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know about the library until they need us – and that’s fine with us.
“If they need us to look for a job, that’s what we’re here for.”
The matching grant money will be used to upgrade computers and hotspots and purchase other items to promote science, technology, engineering and math access.
“A lot of our computers are out of warranty, so we can’t just get them fixed,” Phillips said. “We’ll be purchasing new computers and software because of that.”
“We’re adding computers, and we’re still expanding,” said Mark Potts, Jefferson County mayor. “This is one of the ways we’re helping the people of our county.”
The library applied for the grant on July 3, and was approved for the funding in late October. The grant will be received by the library during the state’s funding cycle, which runs until April.
“It’s pretty standard for the funds to be received this quickly,” Phillips said. “All the libraries in the state are eligible for the grant. We determined what we wanted, and depending on certain criteria, we were awarded the funds.”
State representatives Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, and Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, were in attendance at the check presentation. Faison said he is a long-time supporter of public libraries, and while the technology grant is very important and necessary, the original purpose of the library should never be forgotten.
“We’ve gotten away from books. Everything’s done on a phone,” he said. “I love being a part of our libraries because there are things you just can’t find online.”