The Sioux City Public Library is one of 15 in the nation to receive federal funding to help schools and libraries address the gap for those who currently lack necessary internet access, or the devices needed to connect online.
Library director Helen Rigdon says Sioux city’s library has received more than one million dollars in funding from the emergency connectivity fund. “This program was available for all eligible schools and public libraries and they covered the reasonable costs of laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems and routers. And then of course the cellular connectivity is available for 12 months on those,” she says.
The library is using the funding to launch the “Internet for All” initiative, a program that provides 1,900 internet-enabled devices connected on a nationwide network available for checkout through the Sioux City Public Library. Residents have already started checking out the devices from the library.
Rigdon says there is a time limit for their use. “For individuals, it’s three months their Chromebooks and the iPads, then you can bring it back in — and if we have availability — then you can renew it and check them out again,” Rigdon says. “But you’d have to bring them back in just so we can make sure they’re still functioning properly.
The routers and hotspots are 12 months.” Chris Kuchta is with the Connections Area Agency on Aging, which hopes to have check out devices to use for their older adult technology series. “So we’ll be going and doing technology training with those programs for seniors. The purpose isn’t to help build their skills but to help them use those devices in everyday life,” Kuchta says.
All Sioux city residents with a public library card in good standing are eligible to check out an internet-enabled device from the library while supplies last.
(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)