Digital Network Access for Illinois Libraries Illinois State Library

Purpose  •  Expected Outcome  •  Eligibility  •  Award Information  •  Requirements  •  Forms  •  Review Process  •  Timeline  •  Legal Authority  •  Questions


The Digital Network Access for Illinois Libraries offering provided Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant funds to support the role of libraries in responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by expanding digital network access.

To assist libraries in addressing the unforeseen consequences of COVID-19, public libraries, school libraries and community colleges were invited to apply for up to $10,000 to establish or expand the library’s digital network access; e.g., upgrade the library’s Wi-Fi or extend the library’s internet service for broader access. One application was accepted per agency, and applications were due September 30, 2020.

Students displaced by COVID-19 and disadvantaged library patrons may not have reliable internet options to connect to remote learning or to access online library services and information. The State Library anticipated that distance education would be an ongoing need in the coming academic year for our state. In addition, virtual networking, working remotely and requests for discovering information online may increase. This can only be accomplished if Illinois residents have dependable access to the internet.

This offering was not intended for circulating Wi-Fi devices for home internet use. Rather, this offering improved the capacity of libraries, especially in areas of high need, to provide reliable internet and therefore extend the library’s digital network access.

Expected Outcome

This grant offering was a specific response to digital inequity as Illinois residents without reliable internet service struggle to participate in online education and access essential virtual services. Its purpose was to position libraries to meet the challenges that dictate increased Internet use.

Eligibility Information

Eligible Activities that expand or enhance the library's digital network include:

Ineligible Activities and associated costs include but are not limited to:

Award Information and Funding Source

Secretary of State Press Release: Jesse White Awards over $1 million in CARES Act Grant Funding

Requests up to $10,000 were considered.

The grant award will be paid as a reimbursement. An agency is required to first appropriately disburse local funds per the approved application then submit documentation to receive reimbursement. Release of award funds will be authorized after the submission of reports documenting proof of expenditure.

CARES Act funding was provided from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Illinois State Library to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including to expand digital network access, purchase internet accessible devices, and provide technical support services. IMLS Announces New Stimulus Funding for Communities Across America.

Program Requirements

Use of CARE Act funds and therefore all activities under this offering align with Illinois' Long Range Plan for the Use of Library Services and Technology Act Funds 2018-2022:
     Goal 1: to position the Illinois library community to extend library services for all Illinois residents by providing access to information and ideas.

Reporting Forms

Review Process

Grants were awarded by the Secretary of State based on recommendations received from a Grant Review Committee following its review process.

Only complete applications from eligible library agencies were considered for funding. Each application had to stand on its own merit and was evaluated based on the information provided in the application.

In addition to the evaluation of the application content, meeting the criteria for library agencies eligible to apply, and the recommendations of the Review Committee, additional factors taken into consideration included:

Only the awarded grant applications shall be considered public information. Working papers, individual reviewer's comments, notes, and scores are not public information.


Date Activity
December 1, 2020 Grant funded activities began
April 15, 2021

Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due

Request reimbursement of funds disbursed during the quarter

July 15, 2021

Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due

Request reimbursement of funds disbursed during the quarter

September 30, 2021 Grant funded activities conclude

All grant funds must be disbursed or obligated/encumbered

October 15, 2021 Quarterly Financial and Narrative Report due

Request reimbursement of funds disbursed during the quarter.

November 15, 2021 Encumbrance Report due documenting the disbursement of funds obligated at September 30. Request final payment (if applicable)

Legal Authority

Awarded applicants are required to certify adherence to applicable laws.


For more information about the FY2021 CARES Act Grant, please contact the Illinois State Library, Library Development Group at 217-524-8836; 800-665-5576 ext. 2, or by email to