The library system is planning to lend wireless hotspot devices to visitors in need of connectivity.
Back before everyone had a computer at home, work and in their pocket, many people relied on their local libraries for an Internet connection. Even now, in more remote parts of the United States, libraries are still the fastest way to connect online. As these institutions lose funding and shut down, the access to this necessary service is often limited in disadvantaged communities. Even in New York City, many families can’t afford the cost of web access.
The New York Public Library has devised a way help the underserved in their community get wireless service. Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which focuses on education and fostering the arts, the library will be giving out wireless hotspots for home use.
A survey the library conducted showed that 55% of their patrons don’t have Internet service, growing to 65% when taking families who make less then $25,000 a year into account. New York Public Library President Tony Marx commented on the necessity of the program:
In a world where access to the internet is necessary for almost any important task – applying for jobs, doing school work, paying bills – it is unacceptable that so many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers would be left behind.
This means that children no longer have to trek to their local library to do homework on a set time limit before heading home late at night. The library system also recently completed a pilot Chromebook lending program, which brought computers and Internet into 100 homes that had kids in after-school programs. Parents in search of jobs will benefit from a year of free access as much as their children will, since an Internet connection is required to complete many of a family’s day-to-day tasks.
For those itching to get their hands on a device for Internet access, the program is set to begin sometime in the fall.
[h/t] am New York