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CARES Act funding is supporting summer reading on the Wind River Reservation through book distributions to students and families. The Wyoming State Library used approximately $5,000 for the project from the $52,297 it received from the Institute of Museum and Library Services “to address digital inclusion” or “other efforts that prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.”

Like the rest of Wyoming, the Reservation has been in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, closing school, and library doors. While many electronic library resources are available, internet and computer access are extremely limited in this remote part of rural Wyoming.

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“Physical books work best with our families,” said Robin Levin, Head Librarian at the Fort Washakie School and Community Library. “They don’t always have reliable transportation to a wifi hot spot or access to internet for downloadable audiobooks and e-books.”

“Every community is different and has its own unique needs,” said Jamie Markus, Wyoming State Librarian. “We were so pleased to be able to work with Robin. With her help, we were able to use these funds to truly benefit the people her library serves.”

The first book giveaways took place the week of May 18 at locations in Fort Washakie, Ethete, and Arapahoe. Through June, the book giveaway will be Wednesdays at the Hines General Store parking lot, Fort Washakie, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Library staff have been volunteering and driving to health screenings and food giveaway programs around the reservation. Measures are taken to ensure social distancing and minimize contact, so that children and families can pick up their books safely.

“It’s like a bookmobile, but with free books for patrons,” Levin said. “Thanks to our friends at the Wyoming State Library, Kellogg Foundation, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, and our volunteer extraordinaire Beverly Hill, we’ll continue through the summer with free books to the community and happy readers everywhere!”

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