Expanding Hotspot Lending ProgramProject led by Newcomerstown Public Library
About the project.
The need stems from low income households, those seeking alternatives to internet usage for their remote learners, more rural and outlying areas in Appalachia that are untouched by direct connections, and those only accessible by cellular devices. With the option of using mobile hotspots, we were the first library in our 3-county radius to help offer unlimited “free” Wi-Fi for school education, job and career searching, career education needs, and entertainment.
The main focus for this project is to offer those needing web access the option to have it. While focusing on the implementation process, the thought was to be able to help students access their school information and classwork as well as to help those in the job and career field to look for and respond to job applications, Currently, internet connection is similar to other amenities like water, electric, gas – without access to the internet, people face a hardship just like the others listed. They might not be able to continue their education, apply for most careers, have the opportunity for required research for work and school – the list goes on.
As library staff and users, discussions with patrons, and being residents of the community, we understand the impact to be magnificent for many. We have heard that access to the hotspot service was a Godsend. There are firsthand accounts from parents, students, and educators who couldn’t afford/receive internet at home during the school closures. This project helped them get through that time. Others needing to search and apply for careers have not been able to because they could not access public computers during open hours and other restrictions.
FAO staff comments.
Seizing opportunity to provide Wifi hotspots to their patrons, the Newcomerstown Library became the first library within their three county radius to offer free Wifi for education, remote work, and entertainment. This project would increase the capacity of the library to continue offering this service to their patrons, creating equitable access to opportunity.