By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents in underserved areas with limited home access to the Internet will soon be able to go to the library and take the web with them.
The Chicago Public Library will use a $400,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to create an “Internet To Go” system that will allow library patrons to “check-out” a wireless internet device, which they could use just about anywhere.
The devices would be loaned for up to three weeks.
The library plans to launch the program at library branches in six neighborhoods where Internet access and digital training is scarce.
“Chicago Public Library is already the largest provider of free Internet access through its 80 locations in Chicago communities. The Internet to Go program will now help to further bridge the digital divide by providing take home Internet access and digital training for people in digitally underserved areas of the city.” the Mayor’s Office said in a news release. .
For those without computers, the libraries will experiment with a laptop lending program.
A 2011 study revealed that in-home broadband use in many of Chicago’s lowest-income neighborhoods barely hits the 50 percent mark and is significantly lower in the lowest-income areas of the city
“The digital divide is solvable now, and the solution requires collective will and bold action. We are committed to increasing the number of digitally connected children and adults in Chicago, and are so grateful to the Knight Foundation for supporting our vision through the Internet to Go program,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon.