Toolbox provides phone, computer, and other devices to returning residents | News

Justice concerned residents of western Kentucky now have access to a digital re-entry toolbox, which is part of the McCracken County Public Library program funded by the American Dream Literacy Initiative.

The $5,000 Library Scholarship Award is funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and the American Library Association, according to an ALA press release. It is one of 16 public libraries selected to participate in the Literacy Initiative.

“The funded projects allow libraries to develop collections, add new services or programs, or extend existing services or programs to adult learners,” ALA officials said in the press release.

The library recently announced that re-entry tool boxes are available to residents of Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, Trigg, Union, Webster and McCracken counties.

The digital re-entry toolbox contains a laptop, WiFi hotspot, foldable phone, flash drive and resource book. Toolboxes can be checked for one month. Residents are required to register for a McCracken County Public Library Card to use the toolbox.

Access to a nearby cell phone, laptop, and other technology devices and resources lowers barriers to re-entry and civic life, said Emily Steele, digital services librarian and adult at McCracken County Public Library.

Steele also sits on Western Kentucky Raintree Council, which oversees 17 counties. The council defends the population concerned with justice.

Steele was instrumental in the grant process and community outreach.

She said the four re-entry toolboxes will serve residents of Western Kentucky. At the moment, there are no plans to acquire additional tool boxes, however, Steele sees the need growing.

Currently, the George Coon Public Library in Princeton does not offer any similar toolbox or service. Library staff previously said efforts were being made to get laptops and tablets that customers could take home.

The Literacy American Dream initiative aims to improve workforce development, enhance basic education, expand client services, build community partnerships, and empower adult learners, among other components.

“The American Dream Libraries builds replicable programs, develops alliance-building strategies, and provides annotated lists of screened resources to libraries across the country,” ALA officials said.

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