Libraries in New York City and Chicago will start lending out WiFi hotspots, thanks to funding from the Knight Foundation.
New York City public library received $500,000 to provide 10,000 household hotspots for one year. The program’s initial 100 household pilot is currently collecting data on how it’s being used in order to better serve the final recipients. Providing 10,000 hotspots will actually cost the New York City Public Library $1 million, so the organization is planning to fundraise the remainder of the funds. Once available, New York City recipients can borrow the WiFi hotspots for a full year.
In a city where 27 percent of households don’t have access to broadband, The New York Public Library will expand its efforts to bridge the digital divide by allowing the public to borrow portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices for up to a year. Through its pilot project launching in September, the project seeks to reach 10,000 households, providing 24/7 quality access to people whose current access to the Internet is limited to 40-minute, once-a-day time slots, available on a first-come, first-serve basis in one of the library’s 92 branches.
Unlike New York, Chicago’s Internet to Go is lending out mobile WiFi for up to three weeks to six chosen neighborhoods based on need. The $400,000 grant will also help the library provide much needed digital skills coaching.
To increase engagement with the Internet in communities with extremely low Internet use, Chicago Public Library will test Wi-Fi hotspot lending from six neighborhood libraries in combination with robust digital skills coaching. Laptops and tablets will also be available. Devices will be loaned for three weeks, and digital and information literacy services will be made available to patrons at checkout.