DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Sep 28 2017

Take the Internet Home with You

by admin

mobilehotspotwebDeKalb County Public Library is offering a new service, funded by the DeKalb Library Foundation, that gives library cardholders 18 and older access to the internet free of charge. Available for check out are mobile hotspots which are portable, rechargeable devices that can be connected to laptops, smartphones, or tablets to access the internet through the device’s wireless signal. Hotspots are available for check out for 21 days at the following branches – Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Flat Shoals, and Stonecrest.

Let’s face it, most of our lives are touched by the need to access the internet on a daily basis. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have that access at home. Libraries across the nation offer internet access, but now DeKalb County Public Library provides a service which allows patrons to take the internet home with them.

Since the launch of the hotspot service, the devices have been checked out more than 585 times. Patrons wait in the library for them to be returned. Users complete a survey when they return the devices, and most indicate they generally access the internet at either the library or on their cell phone. Based on this information, we believe the program provides a valuable service to our patrons.

To learn more about how this service assists our patrons, we interviewed Yolanda C. who checked out a device so her children could access the internet at home to complete homework.

DLF: Why did you check out the mobile hotspot?

YC: I am a single mother of two teenagers in high school. On my salary, I cannot afford to have WiFi at home. My children have assigned homework on a regular basis that requires research on the internet. Having the mobile hotspot allowed me to be home preparing dinner while the children were getting their assignments done. Otherwise, we would be out past dinner time using the WiFi at the library, which disrupts the evening and they get to bed too late.

DLF: How did you use it?

YC: As I mentioned above, homework was the biggest reason for us to have it. I used it as a backup phone system with the Hang Out app, reducing the need to use the limited minutes on my cell phone for communication. I also often need to download legal and other documents and need WiFi to do so.

DLF: How often do you need to access the internet?

YC: Especially during the school year, every day.

DLF: Do you have other devices to use to access the internet?

YC: I have a tablet and a smart phone with very limited minutes. It is too expensive to use on a regular basis.

DLF: Describe your overall experience and feedback about the mobile hotspot program.

YC: It was great! I loved it! It made a substantial difference in the quality of life as a single, low-income parent. It provided a resource that I would not have been able to afford.

DLF: Would you check it out again?

YC: Yes! As often as possible!

DLF: What was your experience checking the device out?

YC: It is very easy to check out. The only problem is the demand is so high, it is hit or miss when they come in and are available for check-out.

Many of our survey comments echo Yolanda’s experience.

Here are a few quotes from those surveys:

  • I used it for a job search.
  • This was great for me to have internet access while I am currently unable to afford internet access at home. This was great!
  • Great, as a mom without enough income for internet at home.
  • My internet is down so the hotspot was very timely.
  • This is an incredible asset to the community for parents who cannot afford internet access.
  • This is a great service to patrons. Thank you.

The demand for the hotspot devices and the comments from the user surveys indicate this is a worthy service to provide our patrons. The DeKalb Library Foundation plans to seek additional funding to expand the “Take the Internet Home with You” program across the library system in the coming year. If you are interested in helping us meet this basic need, please consider donating by visiting dekalblibraryfoundation.org.

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