New York public libraries are aiming to bridge the digital divide
New York City public libraries are on the verge of launching a truly awesome program:
The New York Public Library is launching the nation's largest Internet lending program, handing out 10,000 free high-speed hot spots to some of the city's poorest residents.
The program which offers the devices for up to a year, about a $1,000 value, seeks to bridge a digital divide in the nation's largest city, where studies have found nearly 3 million of the 8 million people lack broadband access.
The program is a partnership between tech companies and the city:
Google’s $1 million donation, along with a $500,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Robin Hood Foundation, will allow the program to expand this fall to all three library systems, including Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library. The goal is to offer about 10,000 families Wi-Fi devices powered by Sprint, helping to close the digital divide in New York City.
“Whether you’re a parent looking for a job, a child working on a school project, or a family looking for information on services, broadband access is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity.” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I commend both New York City Libraries and Google for their commitment to increasing accessibility to technology through the innovative Library Hotspot program, and I am thrilled to see thousands of New York City families get access to the internet.”
Hot spots aren't the only part of the program:
In addition to funding for Wi-Fi devices in New York City, Google’s donation will also provide the city’s library systems with 500 Google Chromebooks, which will be distributed based on need to children and teens enrolled in Library after-school programs. Additionally, small portion of the Wi-Fi devices will be distributed to support similar pilot programs in libraries in Maine and Kansas.
Students who were part of a pilot program have already benefited:
"Computers are awesome," said 10-year-old Carlos Apreza of Staten Island, boasting that his school grades went up by about 30 percent since he got both the hot spot and a computer from the library last year as part of a small test run for the program that was expanded in December.
If successful, the program could be rolled out to other cities and start making significant progress on bridging the enormous digital divide.