At library, Internet devices a hot commodity

The Kennett Public Library will now be offering wireless hot-spot services full-time, following the success of its eight-week pilot program.

Library Program Coordinator Ivy Weir checks out a patron's book below a sign advertising the library's hot-spot program.

Library Program Coordinator Ivy Weir checks out a patron's book below a sign advertising the library's hot-spot program.

The pilot program, sponsored by T-Mobile, indicated a need and an interest in the community for the devices. The hot-spot devices became available on Monday, May 2. Library customers can borrow a device for three or seven days for $1 per day, a library press release said.

“What has amazed us was that the feedback shows that the devices were being used for all different purposes,” Dan Pennacchia, the library's communications officer who helped design the program, said in the release. "Some hot-spot borrowers took the opportunity to attend virtual job trainings, while others benefited from having the devices for travel."

The library partnered with T-Mobile in early February to develop a one-month pilot program. The pilot offered 10 WiFi devices that could be checked out to members free of charge. Members were asked to complete a feedback survey so that the library could see just how useful the devices would be. In less than three weeks, the feedback and interest sent a very clear and positive message. T-Mobile and the Kennett Public Library increased the number of devices and extended the pilot by two weeks.

Moving forward, the library will maintain 10 full-time devices. The $1 per day charge will allow the library to maintain the new program at the lowest cost to the community. “It was important that we be able to offer the new service without creating barriers for our patrons,” Pennacchia said in the release.

Library Program Coordinator Ivy Weir said she is excited that the program will continue. “Modern libraries need to fill many roles for many people,” Weir said in the release. “And being able to offer home Internet as another borrowable service is really thrilling.” Though the pilot has ended, the staff will continue to monitor the success of the new service.

By offering wireless hot-spots, libraries are better able to serve the informational needs of modern users. For some, these hotspots function as the primary source of Internet. Individuals can research job listings, access email or complete necessary schoolwork.

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