Thirty-nine Maine public libraries will receive $5,000 to $100,000 apiece in federal pandemic relief funding to encourage remote work in the public spaces. 

The $1.7 million given to libraries across the state was awarded by the Maine State Library and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development through Gov. Janet Mills Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. The plan invests federal COVID relief money to “improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.”

Libraries can use the funds for a variety of projects, updates and improvements focused on creating environments suitable for remote work. Projects that will be funded range from purchasing comfortable seating and creating private meeting room space to improving accessibility and building co-working spaces. 

Maine has 255 public libraries, but the initiative focused on supporting libraries in communities that otherwise lack co-working spaces and business centers, the Maine State Library and the Department of Economic and Community Development said in a statement announcing the program. The 39 public libraries chosen for funding are scattered from Millinocket to Fort Kent to Portland. 

Some projects focus on serving new Mainers, older adults and home business owners, the statement said. 

Maine’s libraries are critical community hubs, Maine State Librarian Lori Fisher said in a prepared statement.

“Our libraries routinely assist patrons with filling out unemployment forms, organizing and carrying out job searches, and digital skills building,” Fisher said. “The projects funded through the Remote Work through Libraries initiative will take this core work to the next level and enable expanded services that meet the unique needs of remote or hybrid workers.”

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