JAMESTOWN, RI - With the help of U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the $3.8 million proposal to expand and renovate the Jamestown Philomenian Library is getting a major boost via a $350,000 federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The public library on North Road is planning a significant expansion and upgrade of areas for children and teenagers, the addition of a quiet reading room for adults and flex space for all ages, and expanded staff workspace. Plans are also in the works for upgrades to the public library’s exterior to make it more inviting and accessible.

Senator Reed, the leading Congressional champion of public libraries, helped secure a $350,000 Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant from NEH for the project.

Today, Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee and a leading proponent of NEH funding, who strongly supported Jamestown’s competitive grant application for the funds, toured the library and met with library officials to celebrate the federal grant and discuss the future of the Jamestown Philomenian Library.

“I’m thrilled to help deliver federal funding to help upgrade the Jamestown Library.  This public library is a special, unique, and welcoming place.  It is a critical community asset that serves the people of Jamestown in so many ways.  This is a smart investment in ensuring the library can continue to meet growing needs now and in the future,” said Senator Reed.

“The Board of Trustees, the Capital Campaign Committee and the staff of the library are tremendously grateful to Senator Reed for his tireless work championing public libraries. Specifically, the Senator’s assistance in helping the Jamestown Philomenian Library secure an Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant from NEH has brought our years-long goal of a renovated library closer to actualization. This renovation will allow us to serve an even wider population in expanded ways, which is essential to the well-being of our community and its residents,” said Lisa Sheley, Director of the Jamestown Philomenian Library.

Nationwide, NEH awarded twenty-one competitive Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants totaling $2.8 million in December.  These federal funds will leverage private investment to strengthen and sustain humanities infrastructure and capacity-building activities at cultural institutions.  Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants call for recipients to commit to raising three times the amount received from NEH over the subsequent five years from nonfederal third-party donors.

In 2018, Senator Reed helped successfully secure a $450,000 Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant from NEH for the Providence Public Library (PPL).  That federal award helped with PPL’s renovations and moved special collections to a new, user-friendly space to better preserve artifacts, items, and resources for decades to come.

Senator Reed authored and successfully passed the bipartisan Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 to provide annual federal assistance to museums and libraries across the country.  In 2018, Senator Reed was the lead author of the Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 (Public Law No: 115-410), which authorizes up to $299 million annually through 2025 to advance the roles of libraries and museums in education, lifelong learning, historic preservation, and workforce development.  The law authorizes federal museum and library programs administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent federal agency that helps libraries and museums nationwide.

Last year, Senator Reed led the successful effort to include $50 million in the CARES Act for funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to help libraries and museums respond to community needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  And this year, Senator Reed successfully included $200 million for the Library Stabilization Fund Act in the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law.  This law will help support public libraries and ensure they can safely provide much needed services during the pandemic.  Reed’s language will ensure Rhode Island public libraries receive a minimum of $2 million.

Senator Reed recently introduced the Build America’s Libraries Act (S. 127), which would provide $5 billion over three years to build and modernize public libraries nationwide.  According to the American Library Association (ALA), there are more than 16,000 public libraries in the United States.