Increasingly, libraries act as a great deal more than places to borrow books: Especially in rural Arizona and among less economically advantaged populations, libraries provide a link to technologies, educational opportunities and the larger community.
Thanks to Library Services and Technology Act funding, Cottonwood Public Library is becoming even better at connecting with diverse populations.
This month, the library announced it received a $16,700 federal LSTA grant to upgrade a newly created meeting room. LSTA grants are funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, dispersed by Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and the Arizona State Library to eligible libraries in the state.
According to Reagan, much of the LSTA funds go to Maricopa County. Investing in rural libraries outside of major urban areas, she said, is important for guaranteeing access to library resources.
“The goal of this project is to equip a free and public space for the community that is capable of providing the technology and capacity needed to foster the exchange of ideas, lifelong education and civic engagement among residents of the Verde Valley,” Library Assistant II Kyle Smith said.
The library’s current meeting room capacity is 30. The new room will accommodate 100 and feature a room divider, allowing half of the room to be open to the public with the other half reserved for meetings.
According to Smith, funds will be used to “upgrade available technology and furnishings [including] 20 new tables and 80 chairs.”
Additionally, the grant will allow for the purchase of a new 75-inch large screen TV and an overhead projector. The room will be available to all nonprofits and community groups. Per the grant restrictions, all meetings must be free and open to the public.
Library Supervisor Mary Griffith said that many groups wrote letters of support for the project, including the Verde Valley Computer Club, Local First Arizona, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County Free Library District, the Cottonwood Economic Development and Public Works departments and the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.
Smith said that the room should be ready by September at the latest.
“I’m very excited,” he said, adding that the expanded room will increase the number and variety of programming options available to the library and community.
Those interested in booking the new meeting room may call 634-7559.