Calvert Library’s mission is to serve as a gateway to information, imagination and inspiration by empowering lifelong learning and providing opportunities for connection to one another and the world. COVID has demonstrated that connection these days requires internet access. While wifi can be accessed from the library parking lots 24/7 and from library computers or inside the library on your own device during library hours, sometimes that’s just not enough.
Most are aware that due to our rural nature, many Calvert County citizens are not able to get cable internet access and paying for cellular access by the gigabyte adds up in a stressful way when you are participating in Zoom meetings and classes.
Thanks to an Emergency Broadband Education Assistance Grant from the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband, Calvert Library has been able to expand its wifi-hotspot lending program. Thanks to a previous grant from the Maryland State Library and the Library Services and Technology Act through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the library has been circulating Kajeet Verizon hotspots for over two years. These hotspots provide up to 300MB of data per day. This is sufficient for email and some web browsing but it probably won’t get you through a few online video interviews or allow you to watch pre-hire training videos. Students are finding that the bandwidth needed for a day’s worth of classes is more than 300MB.
The new hotspots will provide unlimited data on the Sprint network which will be helpful to those that are needing access to video and other data-heavy resources. Calvert Library Executive Director, Carrie Willson said, “We have all come to appreciate the critical need for access to the internet. We are so happy to have been able to use grant funding and our status as a public library to leverage a discount for additional devices to meet the internet needs of our customers. It won’t solve the connectivity issue in Calvert but it will help many to have better access.”
Fifty-five Mobile Beacon hotspots have been added to the library’s circulating collection. The device can be kept for 14 days and while there are no late fees, the data will be turned off after that time to encourage return for the next customer to use it. Customers can place a hotspot on hold and when it becomes available, they will be contacted to check it out.
More information, including coverage maps for the two different devices, can be found on https://calvertlibrary.info/using-the-library/services/mobile-hot-spots/ or call 410-535-0291.