Aug 17, 2020 | News

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) has awarded a $1000 personal protective equipment (PPE) grant to the Seminole Nation Museum to help museum purchase equipment and supplies to keep staff and visitors safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seminole Nation Museum is one of 64 institutions to receive a grant from ODL courtesy of the federal CARES Act and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). A total of $60,000 was distributed by ODL to address the coronavirus concerns of public libraries, tribal libraries, tribal cultural centers, museums, and historic sites in the state.

Richard Ellwanger, the Director of the Seminole Nation Museum says, “Funding from ODL will be critical in helping us to keep our visitors safe and healthy as well as our staff, who are important and significant to not only the museum but the Wewoka community.”

The Seminole Nation Museum resumed normal business hours in May, but the pandemic has left them with fewer people actively participating in work. “We had a dedicated group of volunteers who, due to health concerns, have been choosing to stay home,” says Collections Manager Caitlin Maddox. “With the ODL funds we can assure them we have the equipment and supplies we need to keep them safe, so they can continue to be a part of this institution and get back to being involved in the community work they love.”

In developing the grant, ODL Director Melody Kellogg said institutions were surveyed about any hurdles they might face in returning to service during the pandemic.

The top concerns of libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions were a shortage of cleaning supplies and PPE equipment, fear on the part of staff and the public, and the challenge of enforcing social distancing and other best-health practices in their facilities.

“We developed the grant proposal to help address these concerns,” Kellogg said. “We were very fortunate in that we were able to provide some funding to all 64 of the eligible institutions that applied.”