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2021 American Rescue Plan (ARPA)

Formula Grants





To learn more:

View the recording and presentation slides of the updated NLC ARPA Formula Grants Q&A Session, held on November 15, 2021.

View the recording and presentation slides of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Formula Grants – Overview and Q&A webinar, held on July 13, 2021.


The Nebraska Library Commission (NLC) is pleased to announce the availability of formula grants to legally-established public libraries, tribal libraries, and institutional libraries in Nebraska. Funding is provided from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), as administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). ARPA is the result of the federal stimulus bill passed by Congress. Nebraska has received a one-time award of $2,422,166. A large portion of that amount will be distributed via the non-competitive formula grant process described herein.

The formula for public and tribal libraries is a base amount of $3,750, plus a per capita amount of .275 per capita. The formula for institutional libraries is a base amount of $1,500, plus a per capita payment of $2.50 per capita (based on the average resident population)


In order to be eligible for fund distribution, public libraries must be legally established and meet statutory requirements. Generally, see Neb. Rev. Stat. 51-201, Neb. Rev. Stat. 51-202, and Neb. Rev. Stat. 51-203. A list of libraries and funding amounts can be found here and includes qualifying institutional and tribal libraries.

Libraries must also complete an online application before the deadline (January 14, 2022) to receive federal funds. 


Online applications were accepted through 11:59 PM (CT) on January 14, 2022 (deadline extended). .

Applications will be processed as soon as possible, and funds then distributed to qualifying libraries. Funds must be expended no later than May 31, 2022. Any purchase made after March 15, 2021 is eligible for reimbursement (see OMB Memo M-21-20).

The final completion report must be submitted to NLC no later than June 30, 2022.


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)


NOTE: 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 may involve construction and/or installation.

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

Furniture and Equipment as Indoor Spaces May Be Re-Configured: Modular/movable furniture with easy to clean surfaces; tables; easier-to-clean chairs; movable shelving to replace fixed stacks (permanent stacks/construction projects and fixed furniture are not allowed); portable/modular office meeting rooms or booths (freestanding); fans; air filters or purifiers; signage; partitions/moveable walls; patron counters; touchless water bottle stations; and book drops.

IT Equipment, Software, and Systems: CIPA compliance is not required for the following: IT consultants to set up new equipment and WiFi, install/update software or operating systems; reconfiguration of network, training library staff; web cams; microphones; software to track computer/laptop/Wi-Fi use; wireless printing systems; printers; all-in-one printer-scanner-copiers; disposable keyboard covers; disposable mouse covers; credit card payment systems; self-checkout stations; RFID; appointment/reservation scheduling software; filtering software or equipment; network switches; firewalls; cabling to allow computers to be more distanced; and charging stations for devices (non-Wi-Fi).

CIPA compliance is required for the following: Desktop, laptop, and tablet computers; hotspots and pre-paid service plans; WiFi routers; network boosters; WiFi access points, extenders, and repeaters; WiFi kiosks (to bring the WiFi to public spaces outside the library); and WiFi-enabled charging station for devices.

CIPA compliance is required when using these federal funds to purchase internet access or any device that provides access to the internet.

Note: You cannot use grant funds to obtain equipment, services, or systems that use telecommunications equipment produced by Huawei Telecommunications Company or ZTE Corporation (or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates); video surveillance and telecommunications equipment produced by Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, or Dahua Technology Company (or any of their subsidiaries or affiliates); or telecommunications or video surveillance equipment or services produced or provided by an entity that the Secretary of Defense believes to be an entity connected to the government of a covered foreign country.

Cleaning and Supplies: Vacuum cleaner - manual or automated/robot; cleaning services; touchless sanitizer dispensers (not including installation); sanitizer; soap; touchless soap dispensers (not including installation); disinfectant wipes; disinfectant sprays; touchless towel dispensers (not including installation); and batteries for all the touchless devices.

Personal protective equipment (PPE): Masks; face shields; disposable gloves; plexiglass barriers at service desks; and plexiglass or other physical barriers between computers.

Security: Lockers for vestibule pickups (must be moveable, not permanently affixed); and some security cameras (note: construction projects are not allowed).

Collections: Print and electronic, including eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video; and online magazines.
NOTE: Any subscription services must end prior to September 30, 2022.

Meeting rooms: Technologies such as digital screens/TV’s; projectors; microphones/sound equipment; and virtual programming meeting, scheduling, and conferencing software.

Mobile digital labs: Outreach vehicles; bookmobiles; and book bikes. Routers, computers, and network equipment for mobile labs must be CIPA compliant.

Workforce development: Focus on a dedicated space (either in-person or remotely) for a social worker or employment specialist (construction projects are not allowed).

Outdoor spaces: Outdoor furniture, umbrellas, and outdoor heaters (must be moveable/non-fixed, construction projects are not allowed), charging stations, and story walks.

Other: There is a wide range of things not specifically described that can help your library to improve access and services for your patrons.

All equipment with a unit cost over $5,000 must be pre-approved by NLC (NLC must have approval from IMLS).

For assistance in assessing your current library infrastructure and for recommendations to address digital equity and inclusion in your library, NLC offers free consultation services. Contact Holly Woldt for more information about tech consultations. Other sources of funding might be available for projects, such as E-rate and the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). For questions about these programs, contact Christa Porter. For options to improve public internet access, see this guide from the Cares Act, which is also applicable to ARPA.


Should you have a question about eligible and ineligible costs, feel free to contact contact Sam Shaw, LSTA Coordinator or Christa Porter, Library Development Director. 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 (March 15, 2021) or after the end date (May 31, 2022) of this 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. 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


Local needs assessments might be helpful to identify issues that communities face. Some sources referenced by IMLS as strong indicators of need include:
  • Poverty/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Unemployment
  • Broadband availability


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 the formula grant funds must be submitted to complete the grant. Purchases made between March 15, 2021 and May 31, 2022 are eligible. Invoices should be sent to Sam Shaw at NLC.

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 is no expectation for libraries to receive these funds on a continuing basis; rather, they should be considered as one-time payments in response to 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 must 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 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.


Formula Grant Application - closed January 14, 2022.

Formula Grant Completion Report - Due June 30, 2022.


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

For more information, contact Sam Shaw.