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2020 CARES Act Grants




To assist Nebraska libraries in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the Nebraska Library Commission is awarding federal funds to libraries through a competitive grant process. These funds are administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, from the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Public Law 116-136). The funding is allocated to help libraries prepare to reopen to the public and adapt services to reduce the impact of COVID-19. The spending principles for these funds are driven by the language in the CARES Act:
  • To prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19; and
  • To expand digital network access, purchase internet accessible devices, and provide for technical support services.

To achieve these purposes, the funding is to be used as follows:

  • Primarily to address digital inclusion and related technical support, using the following types of data to inform targeted efforts:

    • Poverty/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
    • Unemployment; and
    • Broadband availability.


Online applications will be accepted through 11:59 PM (CT) on June 30, 2020.

Expected date that libraries will be notified of funding: July 31, 2020.

The CARES Act Grant funds must be requested no later than April 30, 2021 and expended by May 31, 2021. Purchases made after April 21, 2020 are eligible for reimbursement. The final completion report must be submitted no later than June 30, 2021.


All legally established Nebraska public libraries (both accredited and non-accredited) are eligible to apply. For guidance about legally established libraries, see this page, which contains links to relevant Nebraska Statutes.

Other organizations can partner with an eligible entity for purposes of submitting a grant application for a collaborative project. Partnerships with museums are encouraged.


This list is not exhaustive, but rather intended as a general guide or resource for allowable projects.

NOTE: NLC has a guide that might be helpful - Options for Improving Public Internet Access

Connectivity: Laptops, Chromebooks, tablet computers, or other devices for use inside or outside of the library; hotspots, devices with data plans; Wi-Fi extenders and repeaters; and other equipment upgrades.

Digital content: eBooks; Audiobooks; and databases.

Unemployment related: Online unemployment resources; assistance with job searches; training librarians to assist in unemployment; and partnerships with unemployment related organizations.

COVID-19 response supplies: Disinfectant sprays and wipes; masks; gloves; sneeze guards for desks and counters; and keyboard covers.

Virtual programming: Summer reading and other programs to reach at-risk, educational, or other targeted populations (partnering with museums and tribes, if possible).

**NOTE: Construction projects are not allowable. This includes broadband infrastructure projects that require construction equipment, trenching, construction related trades, and "last mile" projects.


  • No local match is required.

  • NLC recognizes that libraries might be preparing to re-open prior to the June 30, 2020 grant application deadline, and may be purchasing or have purchased COVID-19 response supplies prior to that date. To be responsive to those library needs, grant applications for reimbursement for purchases made prior to June 30, 2020 will be considered for payment from CARES Act Grant funds. Purchases must have been made subsequent to April 21, 2020. Appropriate documentation is required.

  • 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 as required by the federal LSTA funding. For grant proposals involving access to the Internet or Internet-related projects, libraries must provide an Internet Safety Certification (part of the Cares Act grant application).

    For CIPA FAQ's, see ALA's An Update on Filtering (interpretation of CIPA scenarios for IMLS Cares Act Funding)

  • 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 access for persons with disabilities and access for persons with limited English proficiency.


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


CARES Act 2020 Completion Report

For more information, contact Christa Porter.