St. Louis residents who need Internet in their homes but can’t afford it can head to St. Louis Public Library branches for help. The St. Louis Public Library recently purchased 4,000 hotspots that are available for those in need. Families can check out the hotspots and keep them until June 30, 2022.
Hotspots are small, pocket-sized WiFi devices that individuals can use anywhere; the devices can connect up to fifteen smartphones, computers or tablets to the internet. The library was able to acquire the devices through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a federal program that helps libraries and schools provide internet connectivity to communities.
"The Internet is essential for access to government and community resources, employment opportunities, and knowledge, and many still lack that access," Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a press release. "St. Louis Public Library has always sought to break down barriers within our communities, and by providing hotspots to those that need it most they are continuing that tradition. I am grateful for their dedication to helping families overcome the technological divide."
The St. Louis Public Library offers one hotspot per family and does not count outstanding fees against library cardholders looking to reserve a hotspot.
Waller McGuire, CEO of St. Louis Public Library, said the pandemic made clear the Internet is “no longer a luxury, but a lifeline.” McGuire added that the digital divide is a painful challenge for much of St. Louis, but providing the hotspots will let thousands of St. Louisans take a solution home.
Many of the hotspots are still available since the program was announced last week, a spokesperson for the library confirmed to the RFT
. Those wanting to check out the devices must be a St. Louis City resident without Internet access who needs WiFi for educational purposes. Individuals must also already have or sign up for a library card when they visit one of the sixteen St. Louis Public Library branches to check out a hotspot.
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