Hotspot Access in Texas Rural Libraries

Take the Internet Home
In the summer of 2018, the Technology and Information Policy Institute (TIPI) at the University of Texas at Austin has received a grant from the Tocker Foundation to implement hotspot lending programs at rural libraries throughout the state of Texas. With the help of the Tocker Foundation and the Central Texas Library System, Inc. (CTLS), TIPI selected the following libraries to each receive five hotspot devices with unlimited data.
  • Atlanta Public Library
  • Bandera Public Library
  • Camp Wood Public Library
  • Danbury Community Public Library
  • Peñitas Public Library
  • Port Isabel Public Library

“These hotspots should assist the local populations with Internet access in many ways.  Our work in other rural regions shows that hotspots allow people otherwise “unconnected” to complete GED programs, to help their kids do homework, and to use Internet resources at their homes.  The convenience and affordability factors are important.”

Sharon Strover

Professor and TIPI Director, The University of Texas at Austin

The libraries serve towns of populations with less than 11,000. Five of the six libraries have hotspots serviced by mobile Beacon, a non-profit dedicated to providing affordable, high-speed Internet access to schools, libraries, and other non-profits relies on Sprint’s network to service the hotspots. The sixth library, Camp Wood Public Library, has hotspots serviced by AT&T. Allowing library patrons to “take the Internet home” has offered unique benefits such as using these devices have been for job interviews, helping their children with school, getting schoolwork done themselves, being able to connect with family and loved ones, connecting with healthcare professionals, and being able to supplement slow, satellite Internet.
 
Libraries serve purposes “beyond the book” as crucial community anchors for Internet access, particularly in rural locations. These devices have helped library patrons bridge gaps in access to health care, education, and employment. Adding mobile hotspot lending programs to rural library catalogs not only brings new patrons through library doors but also provides Internet connections after library hours are over, extending the benefits of the library and broad information access into patrons’ homes. AT&T and Mobile Beacon are assisting with the devices and the connectivity. Wrapping up in the summer of 2019, Director Sharon Strover and Project Manager Richelle Crotty will analyze survey data collected from library patrons and are looking forward to sharing the results of this program.

What’s New

Library Hotspot Lending: Report to the Tocker Foundation

Based on our work with libraries in in other parts of the country (see: NYPL Hotspot Assessment and IMLS Rural Hotspots), we wanted to partner with Texas libraries in to pilot hotspot programs. We believe libraries, as anchor institutions, have an outsize role to play...

Press Release: Hotspot Access in Texas Rural Libraries

Take the Internet Home Austin, TX June 29, 2018 │ The Technology and Information Policy Institute (TIPI) at the University of Texas at Austin has received a grant from the Tocker Foundation to implement hotspot lending programs at rural libraries throughout the state...

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