Desperately seeking hotspots | Opinion

Public libraries are not just repositories of periodicals and recordings that can be checked out and returned. Other than a place where silence is relished and reference librarians are adept at out-googling Google, a modern library is a place where readers at desks share space with makers anxiously creating objects with 3D printers.

Libraries are democratic institutions and public spaces that meet a community’s needs.

So, we weren’t surprised to see that the Allen County Public Library is adding 50 more mobile hotspot devices to its collection. With 80 machines – which are roughly the size of a mobile phone that can be checked out by cardholders 12 and older – the library system is doing what it can to help alleviate the area’s digital divide.

According to Purdue University’s Digital Divide Index, 11.1% of Allen County does not have access to the internet at all and 34% of the population does not have reliable, high-speed access. The gap was even more evident during the pandemic with online learning.

“For decades now, the ACPL has provided reliable computer and internet access at our branch locations,” ACPL executive director Susan Baier said in a news release. “Mobile hotspots are the next logical bridge for that digital divide, and we’re pleased to have the community support and resources to help our patrons stay connected.”

Like books, CDs, videos and even seeds, the hotspots are free with no limits to streaming time or data usage. If they’re not returned, the device will deactivate.

Find out more at or by contacting any ACPL branch.

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