A program that allows Evanston Library patrons to borrow WI-FI hotspots is proving hugely popular.
The library board is wondering if they can find a way to fund more devices. The library has purchased 100. Currently, 15 are loaned out to Evanston Township High School, 5 are at Lincoln School and the other 80 can be borrowed for up to four weeks from the main library.
There is a long wait, however, to check one out. On average about 35 people are on are on the waitlist, and the average wait is two weeks long.
Board member Benjamin Shapiro says getting more devices would be a good idea. He noted other schools could use some and there are not enough at ETHS or for library members. “This touches on a whole bunch of areas we’re trying to address, both with education and economic disparity among the community”
A library survey conducted last year showed 14 percent of respondents had no WI-FI service at home.
Green dots show where the Library Hotspots are being used, red dots show wait-listed requests for devices.
In an effort to keep the devices from being held onto, the overdue fee is $5 a day, and the WI-FI is shut off if its past due. Despite those deterrents, seven devices have not been returned.
The Library is about to renegotiate the WI-FI deal, whether they remain with Sprint, its current provider, is up in the air.
Another question on the minds of board members is the end of net neutrality, and if that will impact the cost of the program for the library in the future.