May 29, 2024

Hotspots for homework

Library looks at providing hotspot checkouts

Gibson Memorial Library's pavilion is under construction, with a hopeful end date in the next week.

Gibson Memorial Library is looking to add hotspots as one of their items available for checkout, thanks to the Friends of the Library and UScellular’s After School Access Project.

Through this program, UScellular provides a minimum of 25 hotspots, along with two years of service, to youth-serving non-profits around the U.S. Since the library is a government organization, they cannot apply for the program, but Friends of the Library can on their behalf.

“The purpose of that project is to provide non-profits that generally serve children with free hotspots and service to help their youth in the community access internet after school and during the summer,” library Assistant Director Jordan Foote said. “They see libraries as kind of a gray area and if we had a friends group, they could apply for it and then hands those off to us.”

With much of homework for students being found online, the Foote said it is important to be able to provide internet access to the community. While the school district did offer hotspots for students during COVID, they no longer do.

While the hotspots are aimed at helping students, Foote said they won’t discriminate in who can check these devices out.

“We wouldn’t discriminate against who’s checking these out,” Foote said. “While they may be meant for youth to do what they need to do, it’s not really our business if they have kids.”

If given these hotspots, the library would have two different distribution options. Patrons could check out a hotspot for either three weeks or three days, depending on what fits their needs best.

If the hotspots go well, the Friends of the Library can renew the service for another two years. If a hotspot goes missing, UScellular would turn data off of that specific hotspot. While not finished yet, the board is working on a policy that would result in a $100 fine for every hotspot that goes missing.

The board were excited by the prospect, saying that “it wouldn’t hurt to try.” The Friends of the Library votes on the matter later this month.

In other library news...

Work on the pavilion has begun, with a hopeful end date next week. The pavilion will be utilized all summer with the library’s summer reading program.

With the retirement of Merle Lee Pugh, the library is hiring a new library assistant, with a focus on adult services. More information on the position can be found at the library.

As summer comes, so does Tuesdays in the Park in Afton. Along with activities, the library will also be bringing a small checkout cart, allowing attendees to check books out from the selection provided.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.