New York and Chicago Libraries Loan Hot Spots like Books

Coverage Type: 

Against the tug of today’s digital economy, New York and Chicago public libraries are experimenting with two projects to take the Internet to the people by loaning Wi-Fi hot spots like books.

The Knight Foundation, a journalism and civic technology philanthropy, has awarded $500,000 to the New York Public Library system and $400,000 to the Chicago Public Library system to accomplish the task. New York and Chicago libraries, which represent two of Knight’s 19 winners, will attempt to bridge their city's Internet access gap with the hot spots in different ways.

Starting in New York, a pilot called “Check Out the Internet” will start in September to offer Wi-Fi hot spots to the public on an annual basis. It’s hoped that 10,000 low-income households will take advantage of the free service, thereby improving New York broadband statistics that report 27 percent of households are without access, according to a Knight release.

In Chicago, the hot spots are to be distributed under the “Internet to Go” project, which, instead of basing distribution primarily on income level, will make hot spots available based on neighborhood Internet usage stats -- areas with low Internet adoption will take precedence.

New York and Chicago Libraries Loan Hot Spots like Books Chicago libraries get $400,000 for Wi-Fi hot spots (Chicago Business)