CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina Humanities Council has awarded $628,300 in N.C. CARES: Humanities Relief Grant funding to 59 museums, libraries, historical societies and other cultural nonprofit organizations across the state, three of which are located in the High Country.

The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, Wilkes County Public Library and the Avery Mitchell Yancey Regional Library System each received grants during July, when grants ranged from $2,570 to $20,000 with the average awarded amount being $10,649.

According to a release from NCHC, this grant funding will directly support expenses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as staff salaries, general operating costs that support humanities programming, and the digitization of collections and resources to make them available online.

The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum was awarded $4,700.

“We are grateful to be one of 59 organizations the North Carolina Humanities Council selected for this important funding. It will allow BRAHM to purchase a video camera and new computer for video editing,” said Willard Watson, the museum’s program and outreach director. “The museum has been closed since March 16, and we have not been able to offer our regularly scheduled programming or field trips to local schools. We are going to use the grant funds to purchase equipment so our staff can create virtual field trips for schools and virtual programs for our patrons.”

Wilkes County Public Library received $20,000 from the grant fund due to the library’s county funding being cut by 14 percent for fiscal year 2020-2021, the library announced on July 23.

“When Aimee James, the Wilkes County librarian, saw the announcement about the grant she immediately forwarded the information to me and I applied for it for the Wilkes County Public Library,” said Appalachian Regional Library Director Jane Blackburn. “We found out just last week that we will get the maximum amount the library was eligible for through this grant. We are happy to be able to return work hours and pay to our staff. It has been a stressful year so far, and this bit of good news was very welcome.”

Wilkes County Public Library, Watauga County Public Library and Ashe County Public Library make up the Appalachian Regional Library.

AMY Regional Library, which consists of the public libraries in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties also received an N.C. CARES grant, and it announced on July 31 that it has been awarded an additional $10,000 grant from the State Library of North Carolina and its newly established SLNC CARES Library Services and Technology Act, which also awarded $10,000 to ARL.

The grant provided to AMY libraries will be used to “bring the library to the people” by establishing technology hubs, outfitting a bookmobile and teaching digital literacy workshops.

“The shift to learning and working online to help limit the spread of COVID-19 has highlighted the increased challenges for those without access to technology and internet resources,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, which oversees the State Library. “Our local libraries work tirelessly to bridge that gap and provide vital technology services to their patrons. I am proud that the State Library is able to assist them in that effort through this grant program.”

Additionally, the State Library stated that the grant provided to ARL will “use grant funding to purchase and provide to the residents of our three counties Chromebooks and hotspots so that they may access digital resources for vital information, job and career opportunities, educational resources and reading material. We will also place hotspots at convenient locations in the counties to provide internet access to those without it at home.”

More information about the Appalachian Regional Library can be found online at www.arlibrary.org.

Details about AMY Regional Library can be found at www.amyregionallibrary.org.

BRAHM’s programming and exhibit information is at www.blowingrockmuseum.org.

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