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2021 American Rescue Plan (ARPA)

The Nebraska Library Commission (NLC) is pleased to announce the availability of funding provided from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).


ARPA is the result of the federal stimulus bill passed by Congress. The Nebraska Library Commission has received a one-time award of $2,422,166. A portion of this funding has been allocated for the three projects described here:

  1. To Nebraska public libraries, tribal libraries, and institutional libraries under a formula based grant program, which is noncompetitive, and based on a minimum payment amount and a per capita amount. Online applications opened on July 6, 2021 were due by January 14, 2022 (deadline extended).

  2. NLC Library Improvement Grants. These competitive sub-grants opened on August 19, 2021 and online applications were due by October 7, 2021

  3. NLC Youth Grants for Excellence. These competitive sub-grants opened on August 20, 2021 and online applications were due by October 7, 2021 


NLC has received broad guidance from IMLS, as different communities have different needs. The stated goals from IMLS are as follows:
  • To enable libraries to reach residents with internet hotspots, accessible Wi-Fi, digital content and related resources, and other digital inclusion efforts, particularly in support of education, health, and workforce development needs;
  • To provide rapid emergency relief to libraries across the country, allowing them to safely respond to the pandemic and implement public health protocols; and
  • To support library services that meet the needs of communities throughout the U.S., including costs such as personnel, technology, training, materials, supplies, and equipment.
With respect to the goals above, reach tribal and museum partners (eligible libraries are encouraged to partner with museums) best positioned to assist with pandemic response efforts, in addition to traditionally eligible library entities, where appropriate.

With this in mind, here is a list of focus areas that could be supported:
  • Workforce Development
  • Digital Equity and Inclusion
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Developing New Service Models
  • Social/Physical Distancing measures (includes some types of building configurations or optimizing outdoor spaces)


There are multiple programs that funding has been allocated for, including Formula Grants, Library Improvement Grants, and Youth Grants for Excellence. For specific examples, see the individual pages for each funding allocation.


Should you have a question about eligible and ineligible costs, contact Christa Porter, Library Development Director, or Sam Shaw, LSTA Coordinator. The following is a list of ineligible costs:

  • Food and beverages for workshops, meetings, or open houses;
  • Sales tax;
  • Construction/remodel costs;
  • Buying computer hardware by public or school libraries unless the library is CIPA compliant, which requires filtering;
  • "Entertainment” for a program that is not educational in nature;
  • Give-away or promotional items – key chains, refrigerator magnets, T-shirts, mugs, pens, etc.;
  • No built-in furniture (shelving, for example) may be purchased with ARPA funds. All equipment purchased must be movable/non-fixed;
  • Expenses incurred prior to the start date or after the end date of the project;
  • Advocacy, lobbying and “influencing” related to a yes/no vote;
  • Social activities, alcoholic beverages and entertainment costs (e.g., tickets and travel to shows or sporting events); and
  • Public relations or advertising of general library services — although you may and are encouraged to do public relations for specific services or programs you are providing using ARPA funds. Examples: Not allowed: “Come to the library, it’s a great place to learn.” Allowed: “Come to the library’s information literacy program and learn how to search the databases provided with ARPA funds.”
Generally, construction and installation costs are not allowable expenses. Projects that involve outside contractors or construction trades are not allowable expenses. IMLS does allow what they call "construction-lite." If installation can be done by library staff with minimal tools (e.g. drill and screwdriver), then that would be an allowable cost/project. But, if the project involves hiring someone from the construction trades (e.g. electrician) to come in to do installation (e.g. running either electrical wiring or Ethernet cables), then that would be an unallowable cost/project. Please check with NLC for questions about project proposals that involve construction and/or installation.

For more information, see 2 CFR 225 – Cost Principles and IMLS Tip Sheet on Allowable Costs


Final reports should include any outputs (if available, how many people attended, how many items purchased, etc.), but also address how the project has achieved its intended outcomes, or the impact of the project on the community.

Copies of all final paid invoices for purchases made with ARPA grant funds must be submitted to complete the grants.

Qualitative evidence of the project’s impact, such as photos and stories from customers and staff, should be provided if available.


  • No local match is required.
  • There should be no expectation for libraries that these funds will be available on a continuing basis; rather, they should be considered as one-time payments to assist with the COVID-19 recovery.
  • Libraries should still be supported through consistent local government funding. These payments are not intended to replace local funds for the library, but are granted to provide for enhanced services over and above those provided through local funding.
  • Libraries should be aware that continued local support is an essential component of state aid eligibility, as well as maintenance of effort requirements for state aid.
  • Grant recipients will meet all requirements outlined in the grant award documents. This includes crediting the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Nebraska Library Commission when undertaking and promoting grant-supported activities by including the following statement in all published materials:

    • This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Nebraska Library Commission.

  • CIPA COMPLIANCE: Projects which provide access to the Internet require compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA); this means Internet access must be filtered. For grant proposals involving access to the Internet or Internet-related projects, libraries must provide an Internet Safety Certification (part of the ARPA formula grant application).

    For CIPA FAQ's, see ALA's An Update on Filtering (Although this guide is for CIPA scenarios for IMLS Cares Act Funding, the principles are applicable to ARPA funding scenarios). For specific questions, contact Christa Porter, State E-Rate Coordinator for Public Libraries.
  • In order to be eligible for funding, libraries must provide NLC with a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number. Currently, this is a DUNS number provided by registration through Dun & Bradstreet. In some cases, your library or city may already have a DUNS number. The link provided above allows you to register for a number or look up an already existing number.
  • Grant recipients must follow the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 with regard to technology. Please review IMLS Advisory: E-books Reader Lending Programs, and note that IMLS encourages libraries to keep these laws in mind when acquiring new public access technologies.
  • Compliance with the provisions of the NLC LSTA sub-grant manual is required, including compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws, and access for persons with disabilities and persons with limited English proficiency.


For questions, feel free to contact Christa Porter, Library Development Director, or Sam Shaw, LSTA Coordinator.

For more information, contact Christa Porter or Sam Shaw.