Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - You can now check out Internet service through the Rochester Public Library.

Two new pilot programs were launched during the past week to help meet the community's demand for broadband Internet access. Utilizing a $30,000 donation from the Rochester Public Library Foundation, along with support from Olmsted County Community Services, the library purchased 97 Wi-Fi hotspots and 20 Chromebooks, along with Wi-Fi service through T-Mobile.

The Wi-Fi hotspots are being made available through two programs. One is similar to the process used to check out books or other items from the library. Wi-Fi hotspots are available to be checked out for 14 days on a first-come, first-served basis. The checkout can be renewed up to two times with availability and patrons can place holds on the hotspots, similar to placing a hold on a book or video.

The library is also offering a rental program for Wi-Fi hotspots. They must be reserved in advance and can be used by library patrons up to 90 days for a daily fee of five dollars.

A third pilot program began operating in January through a partnership with Olmsted County Community Services to provide Internet connectivity to people living in poverty. The library also plans to launch a fourth program later in the spring utilizing the Chromebooks.

Foundation Executive Director, Vicki Allen, says this is one of several programs supported by the Foundation to help improve the lives of local residents, “Having internet connectivity is so crucial in today’s economy. While the library has offered internet access and wireless access for years, this will be the first time they’ve offered it outside the building.”

The pilot programs were designed to meet four identified needs: residents living in poverty who need reliable access to the internet, patrons needing temporary Wi-Fi access at home, those who need access to Wi-Fi and technology to use the internet and for those who want the convenience of a Wi-Fi hotspot on a temporary basis.

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