Take Home a Book and a Wi-Fi Hotspot
The Chicago Public library is planning a new program that would allow patrons to check-out Wi-Fi hotspots for home use. This would give patrons access to the internet wherever they like. Currently, they plan on providing the technology to areas/branches that have the lowest home internet rates. The Chicago library applied for funding through the Knight News Challenge grant.
I think that the idea of providing home internet services is interesting. I can see the advantages. Patrons of all ages could find information, conduct school work, apply for jobs, etc. all within the comforts of their home. No more waiting for a public computer to open up, or having to write a paper with fidgeting kids in the station beside you. This could also boost computer classes and digital interactions within the library system. However, with little detail about the programs specifics, I am a little worried about the start-up.
What is the cost of these devices and data usage? Will the library ask for a security deposit before checking the item out and what will the fee be for a lost item? All items within the library have a cost. I'm interested to see how the Chicago Public library plans on handling the loan period and criteria.
Can the library limit data usage? At home devices are usually based on a monthly fee and then charges for additional data usage. How will this be monitored/maintained by the library? The library will have to monitor costs, so I wonder if each device with have a data limit and cuts off after, or if there will be a limitless contract between the library and internet provider.
Will the library have access to patron activities? There is always an issue of free access, censorship, and security. There are codes of conduct within the library walls, do these also apply with this type of program?
What is the life expectancy of each device? How often will the devices need maintenance or updates and upon whom does that responsibility fall?
I'm looking forward to hearing more details about this program and learning about the successes/problems that arise with any pilot idea. It also appears that the New York Public Library is trying to start a similar program. Maybe this will spread across the nation. Stay tuned.