Kent District Library Offers Chromebook Combos for Checkout to Help Close the Digital Divide

Kent District Library patrons 18 and older now have the opportunity to check out a Chromebook Combo. The Combo includes a Chromebook and a Verizon Wifi Hotspot. This initiative is part of KDL’s strategy to help bridge the digital divide in Kent County.

The Chromebook Combos are available for overnight checkout at these KDL branches: Alpine Township, Byron Township, Comstock Park, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Englehardt, Plainfield Township, Tyrone Township, Walker and Wyoming. These branches were selected based on their usage statistics of the Chromebooks when they were available for in-branch use. Chromebook Combos are due the next day before closing.

“We want to offer patrons the opportunity to take the tech experience home, so that they can use it on their timeframe,” said Liz Guarino-Kozlowicz, Collection Manager. “For example, a mom with 2 young kids and no child care can’t easily use one of our public computers in a branch.”

Chromebooks are designed to run cloud-based applications and store data online. Patrons can use the Chromebook to access the internet and use web based applications.

In late 2020, KDL sent an email survey to the 771 patrons who have checked out a KDL hotspot in the last three years. Thirty seven percent of respondents said they would be interested in checking out a tablet or laptop with the hotspot. Responses also showed that 40% of users live where stable/reliable Internet is not available, and 27% say Internet services are too costly.

Chromebook Combos can be placed on hold for pickup at their owning location only, and can be returned to a staff member in-branch or via Curbside Service.

According to the U.S. Census, 14% of Kent County households do not have broadband Internet. Last year, KDL added 800 Wi-Fi hotspots to help at-home students and workers during the pandemic. KDL also provides public-access PCs and free Wi-Fi at all 20 branch locations.

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