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Libraries Circulating Wi-Fi Hotspots: Now That’s Cool

   May 28th, 2015

internet access here signI've been quiet lately because I've been just flat-out busy at both work and home, but here's something that has me excited: patrons checking out wi-fi hotspots from their public library.

Last month's article about the NYPL's circulating wi-fi got me interested. I brought it up at a recent meeting, and a colleague (thanks Anna!) sent me some more background info:

The idea is simple enough: have a mobile hotspot for patrons to check out, that can create a local wi-fi signal using a 4G data plan. And surprisingly, not very expensive for non-profits: $15 per hotspot device, and then $10 per month for the 4G service. Cheap!

I'm going to be exploring this for my library over the coming year. This community is pretty good about mostly being able to afford their own internet access, but there are still plenty of patrons in the library every day to use our computers and wi-fi. A service like this would be critical in rural or poorly-covered areas, but will still be a benefit here.

Not to mention, staff could take it with them to the farmer's market to provide wi-fi on the common, and also so we can have a live ILS connection and check out cookbooks and gardening books on the spot.

If you have any experience with these, please leave a comment. And I'll post again once we make some progress.




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8 Responses to “Libraries Circulating Wi-Fi Hotspots: Now That’s Cool”

  1. Sarah Says:

    I love the farmers’ market idea!

  2. ash966 Says:

    We just started, so I don’t know a lot about it yet, but I am excited we have it:

    http://www.sppl.org/borrowtheinternet

    We have had a mobile hotspot for staff use for outreach for a while, we offered it to participants at our Maker Fest to use, since it was outdoors.

    I’ve used a different model, the Freedompop (https://www.freedompop.com/), for my personal use for a while now.

  3. ChiLibrarian Says:

    I’ll be very interested to hear what you learn. We also looked into this, but haven’t implemented it for a number of reasons.

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Sarah: we’ve been going for the last couple years and checking out items just by writing down barcode numbers, and it’s been pretty well received. It would be awesome if our ILS could handle “Farmers Market” as a pickup location for holds too.

    @ash966: that’s great – if you get any feedback from staff or patrons, I would love to hear it.

    @ChiLibrarian: thanks for the comment – do you remember the reasons? I think my library can afford it, at least to start, but I need to make sure it’s sustainable. Another is that we’re just on the edge of their coverage area, so it may only work for some of our patrons anyway. I’m sure there are lots more – replacement cost, providing batteries, writing a usage policy, etc – but hopefully all things we can handle.

  5. Cari Says:

    We’d like to do it by the end of the year. Right now it’s not a priority since we’re undergoing renovations, and Mobile Beacon does not work in our area. However, a Sprint rep just contacted me, so we might go in that direction. Sandusky Library has been doing it for a while, and I like their model. We hope to circulate Rokus by the end of the year too.

  6. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Cari: I didn’t know Sandusky was doing it – I’ll have to stop in when I’m there at the end of July. Thanks for the tip Cari, and good luck getting your program started too, along with Rokus – please keep me posted.

  7. ash966 Says:

    There is webinar coming up on the topic:

    http://www.urbanlibraries.org/bridging-the-digital-divide–library-hot-spot-lending-programs-event-101.php

    One of our staff who was more involved in the project than I is speaking.

  8. Brian Herzog Says:

    @ash: that is great – thanks for the link!