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Release Date: 05/18/2015

Google grant makes wi-fi ‘hotspot’ devices available for checkout at The Seattle Public Library

Wi-fi hotspot logo

The Seattle Public Library has given Seattle residents another good reason to have a Library card.


Thanks to a $225,000 grant from Google, anyone with a Library card can now check out Wi-Fi hotspot devices to use at home.


"You simply check them out as you would any book, CD or DVD," said Marcellus Turner, city librarian.


Mayor Ed Murray joined Turner, Google Seattle Site Director Clyde McQueen, and FareStart graduate Jason Mattingly at the Central Library Monday, May 18, to launch the program.


"Broadband is becoming a necessity to be successful in today's world," said Murray. "Whether applying for a job, completing a homework assignment or paying a bill, you need access to the Internet. Thanks to the Library's partnership with Google, this new initiative will help hundreds of Seattle families check out their own Wi-Fi hotspot."


A 2014 city of Seattle Information Technology Access and Adoption report revealed that over 90,000 Seattle residents lacked Internet access at home. When household income dropped to under $20,000, approximately 57 percent reported having no access.


"Loaning mobile hotspots to people living without broadband access is another way The Seattle Public Library is taking our mission beyond the walls of our libraries and directly to our patrons where they are," Turner said.


The Seattle Public Library currently provides more than 800 Internet computers across 27 locations, which are heavily used. Each location also offers free Wi-Fi. 


"Far too many Seattle residents do not have regular access to the Internet, and as a result find themselves excluded from a wealth of education, employment and community resources," McQueen said.


Mattingly said the mobile hotspots will be particularly helpful to students and job seekers who cannot afford a data plan or Internet service. "The mobile hotspots will make a big difference in many people's lives," said Mattingly, who relied on Library computers to find a job when he was a student at FareStart. Mattingly is still an active Library user and is excited about the hotspot program.


The Library's grant from Google not only covers an initial pilot for 150 Wi-Fi hotspots, but 75 laptops bundled with hotspots that are expected to be available for checkout in late July. The grant also covers outreach work so the Library can introduce hotspots and laptops to populations with the greatest need for these services, particularly immigrants and refugees. That effort will get underway this summer as well, and will include an education component.


"This innovative program to loan hotspots and Wi-Fi-enabled devices is a simple, effective way to help those who need broadband and technology the most," McQueen said. "With this donation, Google hopes to give some of the most underserved in our city a way to bridge the tech divide."


For more information, Ask a Librarian or call 206-386-4636.

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

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