Apply Now for Federal ECF Funding for Hotspots and Devices

As previously announced in June, the window is now open for the next 44 days (June 29 to August 13)  for accredited public libraries to apply for the federal Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) in order to purchase hotspots, lendable laptops, or Internet equipment and services for patron use outside of the library building.

There is now an ECF official website that has training and a place to enter your email address to receive official announcements, including upcoming training opportunities.

Is ECF right for your library?

ECF does have requirements to be aware of:

  1. You must have an active FCC Registration Number, SAM.gov registration, and login to the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) to participate.
  2. To receive ECF funds on internet access, you must comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which, among other things, requires filtering on all of the library-owned computers.
  3. If you want to avoid having to filter, however, libraries do not have to be CIPA-compliant to get ECF funding for hotspot hardware and computers as long as they aren’t receiving ECF for internet access. You would NOT be able to use ECF for hotspot service (cellular data plan), however, without filtering.  Note: Patron-owned computers never have to be filtered.
  4. Patrons receiving a circulated hotspot/connected device purchased with ECF will need to receive an eligible use policy from you and must sign and return a statement that says they lack the connectivity support at home.
  5. You need to maintain inventories of devices and services purchased with ECF support. Examples of what the inventories must include are: (a) device type, and; (b) name of the person the device was loaned to and the dates the device was loaned and returned.
  6. You must also maintain a record of the services purchased including: (a) type of service (e.g.,cable, fiber, wireless), (b) upload and download speeds; and (c) name of the person who received the service.
  7. You must retain records for at least 10 years from the last date of service or delivery of equipment funded by the ECF. This appears to mean that the information collected in the above Certification of need (# 2 above) and Inventories sections must be retained for 10 years.
  8. You are prohibited from selling or transferring equipment for three years after its purchase. After this, equipment may be sold, transferred, disposed of, donated, or traded.

If you have additional questions or need assistance, please reach out to TSLAC’s library technology consultant Henry Stokes (hstokes@tsl.texas.gov) who has begun an email list for any Texas libraries interested in ECF or future funding opportunities for hotspot/connected device lending (and there are more coming!). Let him know you’d like to be added so you can stay up to date with news and resources.

Give TSLAC Feedback About Two New Tech Funding Opportunities

TSLAC is planning to launch two upcoming Texas library technology grant programs—telehealth and digital navigators—both made possible by emergency pandemic funding. If you are from a Texas library, we’d love to get your input!

Opportunity 1: Telehealth

TSLAC is planning to provide a grant opportunity that would provide awarded libraries the equipment and resources needed to implement a telehealth program at their library facilities. Telehealth at the library is when Internet networks and computers are used to help facilitate visits between health care providers and library patrons.

Opportunity 2: Digital Navigators

TSLAC is planning to provide training, funding, and resources to awarded libraries to implement a Digital Navigators program for their community. Digital Navigators are individuals who address the whole digital inclusion process—home connectivity, devices, and digital skills—with community members through repeated interactions. A trained Digital Navigator will be able to assess a community member’s need, and competently guide them towards resources that are suitable both for their skill level and lifestyle.


You can now watch a recording of TSLAC’s webinar last week describing the two programs in development. In addition to an overview provided by staff from TSLAC’s Continuing Education and Consulting Department, you’ll hear from two pioneers in these areas: Dianne Connery of Pottsboro Library (TX) discussing her telehealth pilot, and Shauna Edson and Justin Strange of Salt Lake City Public Library (UT) discussing their Digital Navigators project. Please note: Although you can watch the recording as a guest without logging in to our online course page, you’ll want to be sure to log in and enroll in the course if you’d like to receive 1 hour of Continuing Education (CE) credit.

Are you interested in one or both of these opportunities? Do you foresee any obstacles to taking advantage of them? Are there reasons why they wouldn’t be a good fit for your library right now? Please let us know your thoughts by taking the following survey (less than 10 minutes) by Tuesday, July 6.

Survey link: http://s.alchemer.com/s3/Funding-for-Telehealth-and-Digital-Navigators

Thank you! We look forward to getting your input to ensure these programs best meet your library’s needs.

For questions about the telehealth program, please contact Henry Stokes at hstokes@tsl.texas.gov. For questions about Digital Navigators, please contact Cindy Fisher at cfisher@tsl.texas.gov.

Upcoming Webinar: Tech Care of Your Community with Two TSLAC Tech Grant Programs!

Join TSLAC’s Digital Inclusion and Library Technology Consultants Cindy Fisher and Henry Stokes as they introduce two upcoming Texas library technology grant programs in development—telehealth and digital navigators—made possible by emergency pandemic funding.

Attendees will hear about a telehealth initiative from Dianne Connery of Pottsboro Library (TX) and a technology support and computer device access program called Digital Navigators from Shauna Edson and Justin Strange of Salt Lake City Public Library (UT). After learning about these programs, you’ll be invited to provide your interest and feedback on implementing these programs in your community.

Webinar Title: Funding for Telehealth and Digital Navigators, Two Programs In Development for Texas Libraries

When: Thursday, June 24, 11 am to 12 noon Central

CE Credit: 1 hour

Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3978740470804071696

Prepare for Library Funding with the Digital Equity Webinar Series

This is an exciting moment for the library field! State and federal leaders are prioritizing access to high speed internet connection (broadband) for all citizens. 

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) will provide $200 million dollars to the Institute of Museum of Library Services, of which $8.3 million will go to Texas. ARPA also allocated $7.172 billion (yes billion) as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund to ensure that people across the United States can access the internet. Libraries are eligible to apply for this funding, but the rules to do so are still being determined. 

Libraries are about to see a massive influx of funding to assist with connectivity, so now is the perfect time to learn how libraries, nonprofits, policymakers, and government leaders are devising actionable, equitable plans to bridge the digital divide. A free weekly Wednesday webinar series from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance will provide just this context. The series began this past Wednesday, April 6 at 12:00 p.m. CT and will run until June 2. Register for one, some, or all at https://www.digitalinclusion.org/net-inclusion-2021-webinar-series/