The Great Falls Public Library is helping more people get access to the internet.
Starting in mid-October, the library will have 52 mobile hotspots available to check out. Hotspots provide a WiFi signal to connect to the internet. These will be able to support several devices simultaneously in a medium-sized house.
According to Great Falls Public Library director Susie McIntyre, the library has had a focus for a long time on bridging what she calls a digital divide.
“We know the Covid pandemic is just exacerbating the split between the haves and the have-nots in term of access to electronic resources and we know there’s a lot of kids and people that need to get online, especially with remote learning. We just want to support the community in getting through the pandemics safely,” explained McIntyre.
The Montana State Library made it possible for the Great Falls Public Library to provide the hotspots. According to McIntyre, the library will re-evaluate after one year to determine if money to pay for the hotspot data plans can be budgeted or continue to be provide by the Montana State Library.
People will be able to check them out for up to 28 days. The library will have the ability to turn off the hotspot if it isn't returned after that time.
Library staff are working to set up the hotspots. They will be available for check out in mid-October. The hotspots will be free to check out with a library card. Library cards are free to get for Cascade County residents.
The library has limited hours right now. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The library is open from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for vulnerable populations. Curbside pickup is also available. Call the Great Falls Public Library for more information about curbside pickup or obtaining a library card at 406-453-0349.