SALINAS VALLEY — Monterey County Free Libraries is providing Wi-Fi hotspots to youth who need internet access.
A total of 300 hotspots have been funded through Monterey County Health Department in partnership with the City of Gonzales.
Any youth in Monterey County can bring their library card to their local branch, where staff can collect their address and contact information before lending them a hotspot. The hotspots are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be returned to the library by Feb. 20.
Gonzales donated the hotspots as part of its March launch of the “Internet for All” initiative, a partnership between the City of Gonzales and T-Mobile.
Through this initiative, Gonzales residents were able to receive a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with unlimited high-speed internet access at no cost. A total of 2,000 hotspots were available for Gonzales residents.
After holding several drive-thru pick-up events, about 300 hotspots were left over. Gonzales loaned the hotspots to the Monterey County Health Department, with those devices going to the library program.
“Everyone in our community who wanted a hotspot was able to get one, and since we still had hotspots left and knew that there were many families throughout the county who do not have internet access at home, we worked with the county health department to make them available to families who needed them,” said Carmen Gil, director of community engagement for the City of Gonzales.
Many families in the United States experience what is known as the “digital divide,” meaning they do not have high-speed internet at home.
Having access to high-speed internet at home allows students to complete academic studies and advance in the areas of continuing education. In addition, it provides households access to such resources as workforce assistance, telemedicine access and banking services.
The hotspots are part of an ongoing effort by the library system to close the digital divide, as many county students continue distance learning as their primary or partial mode of education. Countywide, local school districts and the library system, as well as other partner organizations, such as Monterey-Salinas Transit, have worked to provide access to students.
The library branches also provide 24/7 Wi-Fi access at their locations, accessible from the parking lots. The libraries are also piloting charging services outside their branch locations to recharge digital devices.
Students must have a Monterey County library card to check out a device and can apply for a free library card at emcfl.org or by calling a local branch. Curbside pick-up is available. For more information, call 831-883-7555.
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