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 for digital inclusion in rural regions. The Tocker Foundation agreed, and offered funding for a small program with six Texas libraries, providing five hotspots at each site.
In addition to the technology and cellular contracts to the hotspots, TIPI provided “tech support” to the librarians. Over 70 libraries applied to participate in the hotspot lending programs and 6 libraries were selected: Atlanta Public Library, Bandera Public Library, Camp Wood Public Library, Danbury Community Public Library, Peñitas Public Library, and Port Isabel Public Library.
These libraries were selected because they conform to Tocker’s definition of rurality, namely that they serve populations of under 11,000. Another consideration for selection included whether the location was serviced by Sprint’s network because we hoped to use a low-cost service provided by Mobile Beacon, and MB works with Sprint. Our pilot sites also served diverse communities, and we wanted to investigate the possible role of race and ethnicity and location in the operations.