Libraries Lend The Internet

NPR reported on a cool new alternative lending service available at some public libraries. "The public library systems in New York and Chicago won funding from the Knight Foundation to experiment with the idea of hot-spot lending. Both say they hope the move will help them expand Internet access among low-income families."

As the New York Public Library's pitch reads, "'[b]ecause many Americans find themselves unable to afford quality Internet at home, they are caught on the wrong side of the digital divide.' This chasm presents an obstacle to participation in America's $8 trillion digital economy and deprives the Internet of contributions from these individuals."

With so many people unable to afford Internet at home, "[g]iving patrons — particularly those who are low income — the ability to 'check out' the Internet seems a simple solution to improving Internet access across the country, particularly if the program expands beyond these two metro areas."

This is a wonderful new service for libraries to offer. It would be fairly easy to monitor hot spot devices and manage Internet access remotely, and it bring a much-needed service directly into a library patron's home.

And with that, I am headed to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to take in the fall foliage, which means I will be without Internet for a long weekend (if only I could "check out the Internet" in Michigan). I am excited for the short break and to "hit the reset button in my brain," so maybe it's not so bad to have a forced vacation from electronic activity.




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