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Digital Health Lending Kits

Description of Award

The Digital Health Lending Kits are designed to support small and rural public libraries’ efforts to bridge the gap in digital health information access.[1]
Each kit will contain the following items:

  • 10 iPads (8th generation)
  • 10 iPad covers
  • AppleCare+ for each iPad
  • A physical copy of the book Promoting Health Individual and Community at the Library
  • An e-book version of the book Pivoting during the Pandemic: Ideas for Serving Your Community Anytime, Anywhere
  • A selection of print materials related to NLM resources and digital health literacy that can be included with each iPad at check out.

 In addition, libraries receiving a kit must dedicate at least one staff member to participate in a 4-month cohort. This cohort will require the participation and completion of a custom session of the NNLM course Beyond an Apple a Day (BaAaD)  between February 8 through February 21, 2021. In addition, participants will meet virtually via Zoom at least once each month to share progress, best practices, and discuss programming related to digital lending and their iPad kits. It is expected that BaAaD participation will require approximately 2 hours per week and monthly meetings will last 1 hour. To assist with time requirements for the cohort, a $250 stipend is included for up to two staff members to participate in the programming.
Kits will be targeted at rural and small libraries and will allow rural and small libraries to check out iPads for patrons to access the internet through WIFI from the library parking lot, other public WIFI points, or home internet.

**Please note that this award is contingent on funding being made available through our sponsoring agency**
[1] Bertot, J. C., Mcdermott, A., Lincoln, R., Real, B., & Peterson, K. (2012). Public Library Funding and Technology Access Survey : Survey Findings and Results. College Park, MD.

The mission of the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) is to advance the progress of medicine and improve the public health by providing all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and improving the public's access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.
The NNLM regional program is coordinated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and is carried out through a nationwide network of health science libraries and information centers. To accomplish the goals of the NNLM, funding opportunities are offered by the GMR to provide resources to libraries, community-based organizations, public health professionals, health educators, faith-based agencies, and other information partners throughout the Greater Midwest Region of the United States. States served by the GMR include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

In almost two thirds (62%) of communities across the United States, public libraries are the only provider of free public access to the Internet and computers. Most Americans believe it is easy to find reliable health information online[2], while at the same time less than twenty-five percent of health information searchers check the date and verify the source for health information, they locate online[3]. High-speed broadband internet access is limited in rural American[4]. Rural Americans are less likely to have home internet access and technology such as a computer or tablet to access the internet[5]. At the same time the internet is one of the easiest ways to access free evidence-based health information such as Medline Plus and other NIH resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced public libraries to either partially or full restrict access to the library building including public access computers used for internet searches. Increase disparities in access to the internet and online health information. 
A research report issued by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) (2013) [6] states that small and rural libraries make up the majority of public library systems in the United States (80.5%). They also serve a strategic role in extending public services when other local agencies are being reduced. According to the report, “Many small and rural libraries are accustomed to linking what might be considered traditional library services with a variety of other social, educational, and economic development programs.”

[2] Zickuhr, K., Purcell, K., & Rainie, L. (2014). From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers: A typology of public library engagement in America. Pew Research Center.
[3] Fox, S., & Duggan, M., (2013) Online Health 2012. Pew Research Center.
[4] Pew Research Center (2018, September 10). For 24% of rural Americans, high-speed internet is a major problem. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/10/about-a-quarter-of-rural-americans-say-access-to-high-speed-internet-is-a-major-problem/
[5] Pew Research Center (2019, May 31). Digital gap between rural and nonrural America persists. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/31/digital-gap-between-rur...
[6] Swan, D.W., Grimes, J. & Owens, T. (2013). The State of Small and Rural Libraries in the United States. Research Brief series, no. 5 (IMLS-2013-RB-05). Washington, DC: Institute of Museum and Library Services

Public library network members in the NNLM GMR (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) are eligible to apply. For information on membership and to apply, visit our Members page.
Due to the limited number of awards, public libraries that meet the following criteria receive priority consideration:

  • A small or rural public library as reported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services with a Service Area Population of 25,000 or less; [7]
  • Public libraries that agree that a minimum of one staff member will participate in an online community that will include monthly check-ins and completion of the Beyond an Apple a Day course
  • Libraries are located in a Medically Underserved Area

[7] Swan, D.W., Grimes, J. & Owens, T. (2013). The State of Small and Rural Libraries in the United States. Research Brief series, no. 5 (IMLS-2013-RB-05). Washington, DC: Institute of Museum and Library Service


Funding Period: 
Friday, January 1, 2021 to Friday, April 30, 2021
Number of Awards Available: 
Up to 14.


Application Deadline: 
Friday, December 11, 2020 - 5:00pm
Central Time
Application Instructions: 

Electronically submit the Award Application, Direct Beneficiaries, and any supporting letters and documentation to the GMR Office via the application link above. If you have any issues with the online application process, contact us at gmr-lib@uiowa.edu.

Budget Guidelines

This is a one-time award.
Library staff requesting stipends for participation will be required to submit a W9 and additional paperwork to the University of Iowa for processing.

Evaluation of Proposal

Reviewers made up of NNLM GMR staff will review and score applications based on the 50-point maximum scoring criteria and criteria line items listed below:

  • Project implementation (20 points max)
    • A clear description is provided that outlines how the library will use the iPads to promote health information access in their community, in addition to how the library will manage circulation and cleaning of iPads
  • Target population  (10 points max)
    • The project targets an underrepresented population or a community in a medically underserved area.
  • Project Promotion (10 points max)
    • A succinct plan is provided that describes how the library will promote the availability of the iPads to users in their community
  • Project Success (10 points max)
    • A plan to measure the impact of the digital lending kits is provided that clearly explains types of data that would be collected, who will collect the data, methods of data collection analysis and reporting

Notice of the award will be sent to applicants via email and publicized via the GMR newsletter, website, blog, and/or social media.

Additional Information

508 Compliance: 

The Department of Health and Human Services synopsis of Section 508 accessibility requirements, requires that all Federal agencies are obligated to make all electronic and information technology (EIT) that they develop, maintain or use compliant with Section 508. Recipients of National Library of Medicine funding through the NNLM must also meet these requirements. More information on 508 Compliance is located online.

Reporting Requirements: 

Libraries receiving kits will be required to submit a final report no later than May 15, 2021. Reports will be entered and submitted to the NLM online reporting system.
The GMR will provide additional information on the online reporting system and accessing the system upon award.

NIH Public Access Policy: 

All publications must be registered with PubMed Central immediately upon acceptance for publication to be in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Data Sharing and Development of Training Materials: 

Successful applicants are required to use or adapt existing NLM training materials if the curricular material will meet your needs. GMR staff are available to provide consultation on applicable NLM resources for your target audience if needed.
All materials developed should be 508 Compliant. The NIH must be given a royalty-free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable license for the Federal government to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the material and to authorize others to do so for Federal purposes, i.e. the ongoing development of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. All materials created for these projects should be uploaded to the NNLM Learning Object Repository.

Publication and Copyrighting: 

All publications must be registered with PubMed Central immediately upon acceptance for publication to be in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.

NIH Acknowledgement: 

The awardee shall acknowledge the support of the National Library of Medicine in all publications, presentations, and posters by stating:
This project has been supported in part or in full by Federal funds through the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012346. The content is the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Need Assistance: 

Need help? Contact the GMR Office via email.

Organization Type: 
Public Library