You may now be able to go on-line and find out more about your local library thanks to a state project. State librarian Mary Wegner says the project called “PLOW,” or “Putting Libraries on the Web,” has helped give over 500,000 Iowans an electronic link to their library.

Wegner says the State Library of Iowa started out by creating a template for a basic website and then did training for all the libraries and helped them customize the site. Wegner says a grant of over $700,000 dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped pay the cost of getting the libraries on-line.

“Libraries need to be where the readers and where their customers are, and lots of times that’s out there on the web,” Wegner explains. Wegner says they were surprised by how many libraries took advantage of the program. Wegner says they originally expected about 100 of the 540 libraries sign up, but they had 270. She says they are preparing for another round that will see 46 more libraries take advantage of the project.

Wegner says most of the libraries in the project are smaller and couldn’t afford to set up the website themselves. She says they’ve already heard from some happy library users. Wegner says they’ve had some feedback, including reports that the library website was the first website in the town, and says they’ve also heard about the quality and usefulness of the websites too.

Wegner says Iowa is the only state in the country whose state library is providing such a service. To find out if your library is part of the project on the State Library of Iowa’s website .