In late September, Rochester Public Library (MN) was one of 260 libraries in the nation to receive Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (ECF) support from the Federal Communications Commission. RPL received $619,000 in ECF funding to help close the digital divide in our community.
In just over two weeks, we purchased 1,000 Chromebooks with built-in Wifi, created labels and stickers, developed a system for distribution, and are working as fast as possible to get them ready for distribution. As of this morning, over 700 of the Chromebooks have been processed by our amazing team!
To meet federal requirements of the program, we are partnering with local organizations to checkout the Chromebooks to library cardholders who lack internet connectivity and/or the devices needed to meet their educational goals. These partnerships with non-profits, schools, and other organizations will ensure we reach individuals with an already identified need.
With a focus on addressing educational needs, we expect to distribute a number of devices to children and families. We are working closely with partners old and new to host private distribution events for their clients where we will create new library cards and check out Chromebooks. In addition to expanding our community network, we are looking forward to building relationships with new customers, promoting electronic resources offered by our library, and ensuring people in our service area have the devices, internet service, and related technology support for distance learning.