Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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NY Public Library Pilots Program to Rent Out Free Wifi

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Coming up, in addition to books, how the New York Public Library is next working on lending out technology. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.

Libraries are known for lending books. Libraries have recently also become known as a place to use computers and the internet. Now though, libraries are combining the two in their latest effort to try to close the so-called "Digital Divide"—made up of those who do and do not have access to the internet.

The New York Public Library recently completed a pilot project during which certain patrons were able to check out wireless routers giving them free, unlimited internet access at home.

“If you come in and you’re part of a program, an educational program, then you’re somebody that can be eligible to receive a device, if you do not have internet at home or if you do not have access to internet at home. And some of the families, through the pilot program, if they didn’t have any way to access the internet as well they were able to receive laptops as well," said New York Public Library's Paul Lee.

The library says while users are encouraged to use the router to, at least in part, continue online education programs started at the local branch…users are free to surf however they please.

Some of the people who’ve already checked them out say because they don’t use the internet that often, they never realized how useful and, in some cases, necessary it can be, not just for themselves but more so for their children.

One library patron, Maria Rangel, says because English is her second language, she has trouble helping her daughter learn to read and pronounce words properly in English, borrowing a computer and internet access though allows her daughter to log in to interactive reading lessons online.

“They show you how to read word by word and actually I don’t know how to pronounce any word so she’s starting to be my teacher, so it really helps for me and for my daughter because she’s growing, she’s feeling like she can be my teacher," Rangel says.

As for when wireless lending will become a permanent service, the New York Public Library says it plans to evaluate data from the pilot and have the program back full time this fall.

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