Lincoln Library patrons can bring the internet home for two weeks at a time, through checking out the nine wi-fi hotspots the library now owns, according to director Will O’Hearn.
A “hotspot” emits a wi-fi signal, which up to 10 devices, like a phone or computer, can access at at time, O’Hearn said. The Lincoln Library hotspots have unlimited data and work off the Sprint Network. Before purchasing the hotspots at discount, O’Hearn said library staff made sure the hotspots would get a “solid signal” throughout the city.
O’Hearn said a lot of patrons come to the library to use its Internet, often to apply for jobs. However, since the library isn’t open 24/7 and job applications can be lengthy, O’Hearn said he wanted a way to provide one of the most utilizied resources at the library for patrons to bring home.
“Everyone thinks Internet is ubiquitous but 3 out of 10 Americans don’t have Internet in their home,” O’Hearn said, citing a Pew Research study. “…When you look for jobs or working on school work, you need it at your house.”
O’Hearn said the hotspots can be used for entertainment as well, like streaming TV shows. The hotspots have 23 gigabytes of “preferred data” per month after which the Internet provided can slow down. He said in the first weeks of offering hotspots, none have gone past the preferred data range.
O’Hearn added that the hotspots could be paired with a new service that the library started to offer in November through Lynda.com. Anyone with a library card and internet can access the website, which hosts educational videos by college professors on techology, arts and business, to name a few.
“They conquer the world at that point,” O’Hearn said.
Offering hotspots isn’t an uncommon practice. The New York Public Library has 100 hotspots for checkout. Hotspots were a popular service offered at a previous library he worked at, O’Hearn added.
In order to check out a hotspot, the user needs to have a library card and must be 16 years of age or older. Hotspots can be checked out for two weeks with no holds or extensions. Every day a hotspot isn’t returned to the circulation desk over the two-week period, the patron is fined 50 cents. After three days, the wi-fi is shut off.
“It becomes a very expensive brick to you,” O’Hearn said, adding that a lost hotspot would cost the patron $100 to replace.
Through a nonprofit that helps library access technology at a discount, the library was able to purchase the 11 hotspots for $124 and will pay $120 per hotspot per year for data usage. Two of the hotspots will be used internally by librarians for mobile circulation and outreach efforts.
As of Friday afternoon, four of the nine hotspots were still available to check out.
Contact Crystal Thomas: 788-1528, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/crystalclear224.