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ARPA Grants to Public Libraries for Equipment and Supply Purchases

Press Release about ARPA Grants

The Department of Libraries made up to $980,587.07 in grant funding available to public libraries to make one-time collections, equipment, and supply purchases. The list of eligible purchases reflected the results of a needs assessment survey we had launched at the end of March 2021. Ultimately 166 libraries applied and received a total of $928,410.84. The grant allowed libraries to purchase:

  • Outdoor programming/placemaking items, such as canopies and tents, white boards, dividers, sound systems, etc. Outdoor furniture is allowable if it is used to advance or keep operational library services like summer programming or access to library wi-fi. 
  • Indoor furniture for COVID response, such as dividers, un-upholstered furniture, mobile charging stations, smaller tables for separation, sneeze guards, lockers, etc., or furniture with embedded digital/electrical components, or tables, chairs, shelves with built-in chargers or outlets.
  • Standalone HVAC augmentation, e.g. air filters, purifiers, etc. that don’t require construction.
  • Computers for patrons e.g. lendable tablets and laptops, kid specific desktops, etc, including initial, one-time tech setup costs. We don’t recommend lendable WiFi hotspots unless the library can pay for any subscription costs upfront.
  • Non-construction WiFi and network upgrades.
  • Robotics for kids’ programming (Ozobots, Sphero, Osmo, SnapCircuits, Raspberry Pi). Your library is responsible for maintaining any subscription fees and add on components in the future.
  • Makerspace equipment and content.
  • Video production equipment, such as green screens, cameras, video and audio equipment, tripods, portable recording studios, etc.
  • Staff technology, such as computers, electronic office equipment such as printers, scanners, 3D printers, document cameras, self-checkout systems, single-purchase software, security cameras that comply with 2 CFR 200.216, Owl cameras and other webinar technology, one-time tech setup costs.
  • One-time collection purchases – print and electronic. Subscriptions are not permitted.
  • Book bike
  • Accessibility upgrades (no construction allowed).
  • Dedicated space for social worker/employment specialist/telemedicine etc.(could purchase cubical type of walls, desks, chairs, computers--no construction of permanent walls). Library is responsible for personnel costs.
  • Library purchases of PPE  (VTLIB will not make bulk purchases of PPE).

We encouraged consideration of the Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium (MHEC) purchasing program for purchases.

Construction costs were not allowed. This VTLIB grant was for equipment/supply purchases only and did not pay for personnel.

*Per 2 CFR § 200.439 - Equipment and other capital expenditures, all equipment purchases of $5,000/unit or more had to be approved by IMLS via VTLIB ahead of time.

Allocation to Public Libraries

Review chart of funding by library here - Google Sheets | Excel

Funds were allocated based on a formula that includes a base dollar amount per person served, poverty and unemployment factors in the library’s service area, and broadband availability. The base allocation starts at $2,000 for every library.

Note that VTLIB did not do bulk purchases for libraries.

VTLIB, State, IMLS and Federal Compliance Requirements

Note that in order for a public library to receive these funds, the library must have

  • a DUNS number;
  • attended a grant webinar, or watched a recording;
  • submited an application and a budget;
  • signed a grant agreement with VTLIB;
  • acknowledged funding from VTLIB and IMLS in any communications about the award, per these guidelines from IMLS; and
  • provided the required final report (including receipts) detailing how the funds were spent.

We recommended that libraries send a press release to local media outlets to share the news of the grant once they had a plan on what they would do with the funds. The Department offered use of this press release template (Word). We encouraged promotion through social media channels as well.

Whenever possible, we urged libraries to follow the guidance in §200.321 Contracting with small and minority businesses, women's business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms and §200.322   Domestic preferences for procurements.

Additional IMLS 2021 Guidance for grantees and subrecipients.

Libraries that intended to apply for any grants were informed to please make sure to have obtained a DUNS number or a registration – this information will be required on all grant applications per IMLS. To obtain a DUNS number, please apply through or calling 1-844-235-0039. We noted that a registration was required by IMLS beginning on April 1, 2022.

Libraries and their municipalities (where applicable) needed to be in good standing with subrecipient state and federal annual reporting and all state single audit requests. Grantee should also be found to be in a low or moderate risk assessment (page 13) and be in compliance with all previous grant requirements.


The application deadline of August 9, 2021 has passed. We are no longer accepting applications.

Timeline and Reporting

The application and budget deadline was August 9, 2021 to be considered. The granting period was October 1, 2021 through August 31, 2022. The funds had to be spent and the report and receipts submitted to VTLIB no later than July 15, 2022.  The Report Form was made available here: Reports and receipts could be submitted before the deadline if they had spent funds sooner.

We encouraged applicants to review the reporting webinar.

The projected funds disbursal was October, 2021. Note that the timing may change depending on factors outside of our control.

We highly recommended that libraries start making plans on what to purchase ahead of time, so they could be ready to submit a budget when it was due. We provided this worksheet to gather all needed information:
Worksheet (Word)
Worksheet (PDF)

Grant Webinars, Office Hours, and Ideas Exchange

If you were unable to attend the required webinar, you can watch the recording on Niche Academy to fulfill this requirement.

You can also watch the video below, but this will not be tracked and doesn't fulfill the requirement:

We made virtual office hours available to answer specific questions.

  • July 16, 2021, 2:00 - 3:00pm
  • July 21, 2021, 11:00 am - 12:00pm
  • July 28, 2021, 2:00 - 3:00pm
  • August 5, 2021, 10 - 11am
  • August 6, 2021 1:30 - 2:30pm

Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 802-828-7667,,164706347#   United States, Montpelier
Phone Conference ID: 164 706 347#

We also invited participants to sign up for a listserv dedicated to discussions about ARPA and other grants. We urged them to feel free to sign up and swap ideas there. We asked that specific questions to VTLIB not be added to the list serve, since we wouldn't be actively monitoring it and urged use of the FAQ and the question form instead.


We asked grant participants review this page again and consult our Frequently Asked Question page before contacting us. If the Q&A didn't answer their question, we asked that they submit the question form (linked on the FAQ). We used form submissions to add to the FAQ. We asked the libraries not email VTLIB staff directly.