Google is piloting a laptop and wifi hotspot lending program with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
People often use the library’s computers to apply for jobs, apartments or government benefits, keep up with friends and family, or for school and work. But not everyone has a schedule that allows them to do these things during library hours.
“Giving people the opportunities to take this stuff home ... work at a schedule that really meets their needs is important,” said Toby Greenwalt, the library’s director of digital strategy and technology integration. “[It] matters for school work … for finding jobs. That matters for dealing with government resources. That matters if you just want to watch a video on YouTube.”
Right now, the equipment is only available at the Oakland, West End and Woods Run branches. Greenwalt said he hopes all 19 locations will have laptops and wifi hotspots available for checkout by the end of March.
The program is being funded by a $330,000 grant from Grow with Google, the tech company’s initiative to create economic opportunities. Google’s Stephen Brokaw said depending on how the program does in Pittsburgh, it might be expanded to other parts of the country.
“The internet is a great equalizer that can level playing field for everyone,” said Brokaw. “And with access to the internet, people can learn all sorts digital skills to find their next job, to grow their business or grow their career.”
Library patrons who are at least 18 years old can borrow a hotspot and computer for up to 21 days.
WESA receives funding from the Carnegie Library.