The Forward has a scintillating story today about the E-Rate program, a federally-funded subsidy program for libraries, which has been doling out wads of cash to Orthodox Jewish libraries that may not actually be libraries.
The plaque on the door at Kollel L’Horauh calls the room a library. As a library, it has received $135,000 in congressionally mandated library subsidies. But there’s no librarian, and the room’s “collection” consists of a subscription to a single digital database of Jewish books that is not even available on all the computers. In Brooklyn, not being a library is no barrier to receiving library subsidies. A Forward investigation has found that E-Rate, the federally backed library subsidy program, has committed $1.4 million to ultra-Orthodox religious institutions in Brooklyn that don’t actually qualify as libraries.
Nine such groups have received an average of $161,000 in commitments from E-Rate since 2010 — more than twice the average amount committed to libraries in New York State during the same period.
It’s a great read. Check it out.