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Oswego

Library district gets largest state per capita grant to date

Funding allocation based on district population of 61,594

The Oswego Public Library District's Montgomery Campus Library at 1111 Reading Drive in Montgomery.
The Oswego Public Library District's Montgomery Campus Library at 1111 Reading Drive in Montgomery.

The Oswego Public Library District recently received its largest state per-capita grant since 1980, when the grant was first given, library board members learned last week.

According to a report from Secretary of State Jesse White, who also is state librarian, the amount the district received is $76,992 or $1.25 per person, based on a library district population of 61,594.

The grant funds will be split evenly between the Oswego Campus and Montgomery Campus libraries, the same as with previous grants, according to Sarah Skilton, library district director.

According to White, the funds can be used for programs, personnel, continuing education, supplies, equipment, electronic access including computer software and hardware, travel, public relations, telecommunications, and contractual services. These items encourage reading for information and enjoyment and support lifelong learning through educational programming, Skilton said.

The 2018 grant has already been used for books and audio-visual materials in the Youth and Adult Services department and for continuing education programs for trustees and staff, according to board president Terry Tamblyn.

Grant funds also can be used to supplement the regular budget, but cannot reduce the library’s tax levy in the current year or in the next year, according to White.

Skilton said capital expenditures are not allowed with per capita funds. According to the grant, anything attached to a building is considered a capital expenditure, with the exception of technology.

Even though the grant is approved and announced by White, Skilton said the funds actually come from the federal government. The funds are part of the annual Illinois Public Grant program given to more than 600 libraries throughout the state every year. As state librarian, White is responsible for awarding the grants from funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly.

In a press release, White said the grants help ensure that public libraries have the resources to address patron and community needs.

“I know that libraries count on these grants for important expenses such as paying for materials, programming and technology,” he said.

The last time Oswego received $1.25 per person was in 2015. But at that time, the district received $73,589, because it was based on a population of 58,871.

The first state library grant, which was received in 1980, was 24 cents per person and totaled $2,452. It was based on a 1970 population of 10,143 residents in the district, according to the 1970 U.S. Census.

Grants have increased as a result of five U.S. Censuses, seven special censuses by the village of Oswego, and on April 7, 1987, when the library district annexed land in Montgomery, Wheatland and Bristol.

From the time the first grant was given in 1980 through this year, with the additional population gained through each census, the district will have received $1,410,412.

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