Check-out the Internet and a laptop: really: Lincoln County Public Library offers hotspots and Chromebooks on loan to patrons | News

LINCOLNTON – Reliable access to the Internet is a service that a lot of people in the county may take for granted, but all that is available online is not available to everyone. It’s estimated that approximately 14% of Lincoln County residents don’t have access to the Internet. There’s also a lot of people who don’t have home computers (approximately 11% of residents). Through a grant from the Federal Government E-Rate program, the Lincoln County Public Library has purchased 350 mobile hotspots and 65 Chromebooks (laptops) to lend to library patrons.

“This year there was a big pool of $7.1 million available as the Emergency Connectivity Fund,” Phillip Overholtzer, the library’s program outreach manager said. “That was one of the things that we learned during the pandemic. Most people have a cell phone but applying for a job on a cell phone or students trying to do homework on cell phones is difficult. The school system has taken care of itself, now we’re taking care of the public.”

Some people have Internet, but it’s excruciatingly slow, Overholtzer added. 

There’s no fee for renting the hotspot or laptop. Lost or damaged items will be charged to the patron account according to the lending policy. All Lincoln County resident adult patrons in good standing are eligible to check out a device. 

Hotpots and Chromebooks will check out for one week and lost Item fee will be added on the patron’s account after seven days overdue. Once the items are returned the charges will be cleared from the account. Other internet devices will check out for 14 days and “charge off” after 30 days overdue. 

The hotspot unlimited 4G LTE service provided by Verizon wireless. These devices should work in any location that a Verizon cellphone will get service which is roughly 98% of the county.

As of this time, there are no renewals on these types of materials. Items must be returned to a library staff member at the end of the lending period. There will be a one week waiting period before the patron change check out another device. 

Adult patrons can have up to two electronic devices on their account in any combination. There is a limit to one hotspot and one Chromebook per household. 

Information will not be tracked by the library or service provider, but patrons borrowing the device will have to agree to abide by the library’s internet usage policy upon checking out the item. 

The hotspots are an unsecured network meaning there is a chance your data could be intercepted by another wireless user. It is best to not transmit any personal data such as social security numbers or financial information while using an unsecured network. The internet is filtered in compliance with CIPA. 

The hotspot can support up to five devices at one time. 

You will disconnect in the same way you disconnect from any WiFi network. Click on your WiFi connections, choose the SmartSpot connection, and then click the “forget network” button.

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