The internet has transformed our access to business, education, and government services, directing us to computers when we need to find a job, do homework, or acquire information about public resources—yet millions of low-income households across the country still lack broadband internet access at home. Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reported in 2013 that 30% of US households were without broadband internet access. That percentage more than doubles in some low income communities.
For years, libraries have helped bridge the digital divide by offering internet access at brick-and-mortar branches. Many are expanding this mission by offering patrons mobile Wi-Fi hotspots for checkout. New York City launched a program this year that provides 10,000 mobile hotspots to patrons across three library systems, and in 2014, Chicago Public Library rolled out its “Internet to Go” pilot program with 100 mobile hotspots across six branches. Small and midsize cities are also working.
Read the entire article in American Libraries.