Ever since I heard about libraries in New York City and Kansas City that lend Wi-Fi hotspots, it’s been my dream to offer that to students at our small rural campus library. The September 2015 issue of American Libraries featured a two-page article about it, which reminded me about the project. You can read the article here.
However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves–I just got the funding for our tablet program, and it’s going to be quite a project. I will be working really hard with our dean, ITS at the main campus (we don’t have an actual IT person at our campus), and staff and student workers to roll it out by the beginning of the Spring 2016 term. I want to get through one term with the program in order to assess it. If it’s successful, then I feel like we can try to offer a new thing.
I know of one another college librarian on a listserv who has asked about college libraries doing this, particularly for commuter rural campuses. I got in touch with her, and she hasn’t heard from anyone yet.
I was really surprised to read that in Kansas City, MO, 70 percent of kids don’t have broadband Internet access at home (Inkleberger, 2015). The number is striking because, nationally, according to the Pew Research Center, 30 percent of households don’t have broadband access (Zickuhr, 2013). I was already planning a study of Internet access and technology devices for our small campus, and it seems even crucial that I get started because while I know a lot of our students don’t have reliable access at home, I’m not sure of the actual number. That figure is going to shape a lot of my plans and also give me the information I need to make a case for funding. I will definitely be getting in contact with our Office of Grants and Institutional Research. I happen to be a member of my college’s Institutional Review Board, so it helps that I have actually reviewed proposals.
Honestly, I have a really cool job. It’s a challenging one, but a really cool one. I feel like I am making good efforts to solve problems and help students on their educational journey.