In today’s world access to the internet is more than a luxury; it has become a necessity. From completing required schoolwork to submitting job applications and conducting remote interviews, the internet opens the door to a whole realm of possibilities and opportunities. Unfortunately, not everyone has a connection to a wireless network so not everyone has equal access to these opportunities. As a hub for community learning in Suffolk, the Suffolk Public Library wants to help bridge that divide.
“Technology and internet connectivity is something libraries have been offering in their buildings for a long time but the tech needs in our community don’t stop when we are closed,” said Sarah Townsend, Assistant Director of Libraries for Suffolk Public Library.
On August 14, 2017 Suffolk Public Library launched WiFi2Go and became the first in the area to offer a mobile hotspot lending program for free. By noon on launch day all ten of the devices had been checked out or reserved.
WiFi2Go operates like other collections in the library. Cardholders 18 and over can check out the device for 21 days, renew up to three times if no one else is waiting, place a hold if one isn’t readily available, and they are completely free to borrow. The library chose the Verizon MiFi for this collection which allows users to connect up to ten devices to the Mobile Hotspot.
“WiFi2Go was born out of a need in Suffolk, but we are by no means the first public library to be doing this,” said Liz Steyer, Technology and Content Strategy Manager for Suffolk Public Library. “We looked to a lot of organizations that have been successfully lending mobile hotspots for years, including large libraries like New York Public and smaller libraries around the country that we reached out to directly to learn more about their programs.”
Not only will WiFi2Go open up career and school opportunities to those without broadband internet access at home, the program will increase the number of library services people can enjoy outside of the library. Library cardholders have access to internet-based resources such as foreign language learning courses, a testing reference center, online continuing education courses through Universal Class, early literacy tools, eBooks and more. WiFi2Go can even benefit those going on long road trips away from their own internet connection.
“We hope this is just the beginning of finding more exciting ways to bring technology in to people’s homes and lives,” said Sarah Townsend.
Those interested in WiFi2Go can learn more at Suffolk Public Library or by visiting here.