Library lending free mobile hotspot devices
The Library of Graham was chosen by the Tocker Foundation to receive 10 mobile hotspot devices to provide wireless internet to compatible devices. The hotspot devices are able to be checked out for free with a library card and can connect wirelessly to up to eight devices.
The Tocker Foundation supports small, rural community libraries within Texas serving populations of 12,000 or less. In the past, the Library of Graham has received grants from the Tocker Foundation for furniture within the children’s reading section and for the digitization of microfilm of The Graham Leader on the University of North Texas’ resource The Portal to Texas History. Library Director Sherrie Gibson said the foundation approached the library regarding implementing the service.
“(They) called me to see if we’d be interested and (they) only had a small group of libraries that were interested. And I was like, ‘I don’t know who would not be interested.’ I mean, especially in a rural area like this to offer internet hotspots to people that live out at the lake where they can’t get good internet. (...) we have people come in here all the time to use our computers (...) and our Wi-Fi because they don’t have good connections at home.” Gibson said.
Austin Free-Net was chosen by the Tocker Foundation to work on the project. The nonprofit organization provides public access to the internet as well as digital literacy training for Austin residents, emphasizing underserved communities. Gibson said the Tocker Foundation provides all the needed materials for the project to the libraries in the program.
“Tocker donates the devices. They’re going to pay for the service, the internet service, for a year. At the end of the year, if we choose to continue, we’ll take over the monthly payments to Austin Free-Net. And the devices are ours regardless, but they won’t do anything without the service,” she said. “They look like a cell phone. They’re not a cellphone. They won’t make calls.”
The pocket-sized device can provide free internet to devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices with Wi-Fi compatibility. The devices are included in a clear plastic case and will include a charger with the device and a quick start guide in English and Spanish. When the device is checked out, the person checking the device out must sign a device loan agreement and take a survey upon returning the device.
For the rest of the story, see the Nov. 24 edition of The Graham Leader.