Local libraries eligible for more hotspots, Chromebooks

Mar 19, 2021

The California State Library system is sending nearly 5,000 WiFi hotspots and Chromebooks to libraries across the state.

More than 100 libraries in California, including several in Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County, are eligible to receive funding for the new technology resources.

The library system said the Chromebooks and hotspots will provide users with a 4G LTE network and unlimited data. That service increases access to things like video communication technologies and civic services.

The libraries are using $1.6 million in emergency pandemic relief funds for this grant. It’s designed to connect Californians to the same high speed broadband network that public schools and state universities use.

Hillary Theyer, library director for Monterey County Free Libraries, said their branches have been working throughout the pandemic to increase technology resources for the public. Theyer said this grant will further that goal.

“It adds a tool to our arsenal,” Theyer said. “And I’m calling it an arsenal because no one tool is going to do it all. We don’t have the one magic answer that solves this. So I’m always happy to collect more tools and deploy them for the public.”

San Luis Obispo County library branches also offer a limited supply of these resources. Coordinating Librarian for Adult Services Sharon Coronado said Chromebooks and hotspots have become essential, especially for students, adult learners and those who are unemployed.

“The fact that they’re being used, requested and [extended] for months at a time, I think tells me everything that I need to know,” Coronado said. “It’s just one less thing that people have to worry about.”

The federal Library Services and Technology Act is funding this initiative and requires that eligible libraries comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act to receive devices.

Distribution of the new technology will be prioritized for communities that have the greatest need.