Kansas City Public Library Expands Digital Equity Efforts, Offers Chromebooks to Go
(Kansas City, Mo.) - The Kansas City Public Library is excited to announce that 900 Chromebook computers are now available for checkout for free with a library card. Each has built-in Wi-Fi internet and 4G LTE mobile data, providing online functionality nearly anywhere.
With demand high, patrons needing access to a computer are encouraged to place holds for a Chromebook by visiting the Library’s catalog or calling, emailing, or chatting with Library staff. They can choose a convenient location for pickup, as with holds on books and other materials, and return the devices to any Library location.
Checkouts are for 21 days (no renewals), allowing time for borrowers to complete homework, work on a business project, apply for jobs, pay bills, or take care of other everyday tasks and activities online.
Service details are available at kclibrary.org/ChromebooksToGo.
The Library began planning this addition to resources and services last year after receiving $853,212 in federal Emergency Connectivity funding. The Chromebooks further the effort to help narrow Kansas City’s digital divide – the economic, educational, and social inequity between those who have computers and online access and those who do not.
Carrie Coogan, the Library’s deputy director of public affairs and community engagement, is a member of the Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion steering committee. She and other community stakeholders began working to enhance digital inclusion across the city in 2012.
“Libraries have been not only providing free access to the internet,” she says, "but also free checkouts of hotspots and tablets and offering free classes on everything from keyboarding to how to create an Excel spreadsheet or your own website.”
The Chromebooks are the latest addition to the Library’s Tech to Go program, which also offers checkout of 300 unlimited-data Internet to Go Wi-Fi hotspots.
The Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund is an initiative included in the American Rescue Plan approved by Congress last year. It is designed to help schools and libraries across the country provide critical online resources to students, staff, and library patrons – among other things, addressing needs for remote learning.
The more than $850,000 award to the Kansas City Public Library is the fourth largest behind appropriations to the District of Columbia Public Library, Houston’s Harris County Public Library, and the St. Louis Public Library.