Williston library receives $50,000 in government rescue funds

  • State officials announced on Thursday that the Emily Williston Memorial Library and Museum had received $50,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the state. Officials were joined by library staff and board members. From left, Marge Prendergast, Katya Schapiro, Elizabeth Appelquist, state Sen. John C. Velis, state Rep. Dan Carey, Lori Ingraham and Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. STAFF PHOTO/EMILY THURLOW

Staff Writer
Published: 6/24/2022 4:42:55 PM
Modified: 6/24/2022 4:42:37 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The Emily Williston Memorial Library and Museum is ending this year’s fiscal chapter with a $50,000 boost.

State Sen. John C. Velis, D-Westfield, and state Rep. Dan Carey, D-Easthampton announced Thursday that the library is receiving $50,000 from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. With the big check in hand, the lawmakers joined Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, library staff and board members in front of the library along Easthampton Street.

“I think this is wonderful and I think it’s an opportunity for folks to learn more about the library,” said board president Elizabeth Appelquist. “Even people who live right down the street might not even know all the amazing things the library provides.”

Library director Katya Schapiro said the money will go toward operational maintenance and upgrades such as buying new staff computers. It will also support salaries of members of the staff, who now have expanded roles to full-time status, and shoring up the accessible ramp into the building.

“We’ve upgraded some of our staff computers that are used for cataloging — most of them were on their last legs and pretty close to dying,” said Schapiro. “We’re very grateful.”

Gov. Charlie Baker signed the $4 billion ARPA funding and surplus tax revenue spending legislation into law in December.

Carey said that he and Velis worked together to ensure the $50,000 earmark for the library was included in the budget bill.

“The library was a priority because of how important it is and the amount of services that they provide to the community — which increased significantly during the pandemic,” said Carey.

As of now, Carey said, the state has spent half of its allocation, most of which went toward health care systems and COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts. By fiscal year 2024, the state needs to allocate the remainder of the ARPA funds and have them spent by fiscal year 2026.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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