St. Louis Public Library offers extensive technology and access point rentals

The St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) Chromebook and Hotspot rental program has just expanded. The program allows community members to rent Chromebooks and hotspots the same way they would rent library books.

The library applied for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a federal program that provides funding for internet connectivity and technology to schools and libraries.

COVID-19 is creating a new set of challenges for communities around the world, with many people connecting to work or school from home. The lack of widespread broadband and devices creates a need for these hotspots and Chromebooks.

“Everything was online. There was Zoom School and Zoom Work, and the program is to help create access through internet connectivity devices for low-income areas,” said Shelby Morgan, an acquisitions editor who works for the SLPL.

The ECF was received in 2021 to overcome the unique obstacles presented by the pandemic.

“SLPL launched the long-term program last year when the first wave of ECF funding was received and the first 8,000 devices were verified by cardholders,” said Jen Hatton, Chief Information Officer. public relations and digital marketing.

A total of 4,000 Chromebooks and 4,000 hotspots were purchased with the original funds. This expansion enabled SLPL to purchase an additional 1,500 Chromebooks and 8,000 access points. Access points can support up to 16 people without losing speed, accommodating families with multiple children.

The loan expiration date has been extended with the expansion of the program. Renters from 2021 will no longer have to return devices until 2023.

“What’s wonderful is how much of a real impact this has had on cardholders. We’ve heard stories about what these devices mean to our customers,” Hatton said. access to technology, to which they might not otherwise have access, has enabled them or their child or both to participate in online learning, take courses, research jobs and connect with others. It’s amazing to know that this program will have a lasting impact on our clients.

To apply, applicants must visit one of the 16 public libraries. All applicants must be residents of the City of St. Louis with library cards.

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