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New York City libraries will let patrons rent mobile hotspots

The same library card that got you your copy of Sweet Valley High will help you surf the Web.

The New York Public Library, Queens Library, and the Brooklyn Public Library will begin renting 10,000 mobile hotspots to their patrons later this month, as reported by the Washington Journal. The program will occur for six months to a year, and Sprint will provide the mobile hotspots. The New York Public Library (NYPL) and Brooklyn Public Library will only rent the hotspots to people enrolled in adult learning programs, English language programs, or those without broadband Internet access. The Queens Library will begin renting out mobile hotspots at five of their branches to anyone with a library card.

This program is an extension of the NYPL’s six-month pilot program this summer, which rented out 100 devices. The initial program helped the New York Public Library win a $500,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Robin Hood Foundation. Google also donated $1 million towards the program. Children and teens enrolled in library programs will receive 500 free Chromebooks from Google as a part of the launch, according to Ars Technica.

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The $1.5 million in combined contributions is nothing to scoff at, however, library officials informed the Washington Journal they estimate the program’s first year will cost $2.6 million. No matter the duration, the program has already helped out the truly Internet-deprived. During the initial pilot program this summer, the NYPL discovered that 65 percent of the patrons using the devices with a yearly income of under $25,000 did not have any Internet access at home.