City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Joins New York Public Library Officials To Launch Second Round Of Wi-Fi Hot Spot Lending
NYPL expanding its Library HotSpot program to lend to New Yorkers in high-needs areas who do not have internet service at home
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York Public Library President Tony Marx, Google Head of External Affairs William Floyd, and other community leaders launched an expansion of Library HotSpot, the Library’s wi-fi lending pilot program, at Mott Haven Library in the Bronx.
The Library is kicking off its second round of loaning the hot spots, offering the devices in 11 branches in high needs areas and with altered criteria to allow even more New Yorkers to take advantage of the program.
The Library – alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio – launched the program to lend wi-fi hot spots powered by Sprint to patrons in December 2014 in an effort to help close the digital divide and address the needs of the nearly 3 million New Yorkers who do not have access to broadband internet at home.
Initially, New York Public Library patrons without internet access at home were eligible to borrow the devices if they or their children were enrolled in one of the Library’s free educational programs, such as ESOL classes or after school programs. Now, for the second round of lending, the program is expanding eligibility, and any New York Public Library patrons without internet access at home can borrow a device for up to a year at one of 11 branches in high needs areas – including Mott Haven Library – if they are over 18 and have a fine-free library card.
“Millions of New Yorkers do not have internet at home, even as so many of us take our connectivity for granted,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “It is a regular occurrence throughout our system to find folks sitting outside our branches before we open and after we close, using the wi-fi leaking from our buildings because they have no other option. Without the internet, they can’t do homework. They can’t pay bills. They can’t apply for jobs. In our increasingly online world, this is unacceptable, and the reason why it is so important to expand this program, which gives patrons access to the internet and NYPL resources at home.”
“Today we are moving closer to providing more internet access to all New Yorkers,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district includes the Mott Haven Library. “Thanks to support from Google, The Knight Foundation, The Robin Hood Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and our public libraries, thousands of families in my district and across the city will be able to access a vital resource to improve their quality of life, job opportunities and educational growth. I’m proud of this collective achievement and look forward to finding even more ways to make internet access as universally available as possible for New York City’s residents.”
All those who want to borrow a hot spot have to sign up and attend a scheduled “lending event” at a branch, during which patrons will receive important information such as how to use the devices.
The Library Hotspot program – which is also being offered by the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library, and was announced last year with Mayor Bill de Blasio – is funded with a $1 million donation from Google, a $500,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Robin Hood Foundation.
“In the 21st century, internet access is a vital resource, if you want to participate in our modern economy,” said William Floyd, Head of External Affairs for Google New York. “Unfortunately, there are far too many of New Yorkers of limited means who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. We hope this hotspot lending program will demonstrate that collectively we can bridge that gap for those who with the greatest need.”
The city’s three library systems aim to lend 10,000 devices to New Yorkers by the end of the year. So far in one round of lending, about 2,600 devices have been borrowed. The 11 NYPL branches participating in the second round of lending include:
- Bronx Library Center, Bronx
- Chatham Square, Manhattan
- Edenwald, Bronx
- Harlem, Manhattan
- Hunts Point, Bronx
- Melrose, Bronx
- Mott Haven, Bronx
- Sedgwick, Bronx
- St. George, Staten Island
- Stapleton, Staten Island
- Washington Heights, Manhattan
Lending events are scheduled at the 11 branches from April 23 through May 9, with the first being held today at Mott Haven Library. It is expected that The New York Public Library will expand the number of sites offering the program over the summer.
For more information, log on to nypl.org, call 917-ASK-NYPL, or visit a local branch.
“The expansion of NYPL’s wi-fi lending program is helping open up a world of opportunity for New Yorkers,” said New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, Jimmy Van Bramer. “The digital divide is real for many in New York City and closing that gap is a priority for the City Council. I applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for helping foster a partnership with NYPL, Google, the Knight Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation. Together we are expanding direct access to a critical resource inside thousands of more homes here in New York City.”
“It’s incredible how far we have come to achieving universal internet access for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology. “Often we focus on wi-fi in public spaces, but with NYPL’s wi-fi hotspot lending program more New Yorkers can take free internet access into the comfort of their homes. I would like to thank the Speaker for yet another commendable public-private partnership, along with NYPL and Google. With this program, we are that much closer to closing the digital divide.”
“Closing the digital divide is a key component to dealing with income inequality,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, chair of the City Council Libraries Sub-Committee, who also attended the event. “Utilizing our libraries by further expanding wi-fi lending is great move forward. Access to broadband internet should not depend on financial constraints; however 40% of NYCHA residents do not have that access. Thanks to this inclusive and innovative program, more families throughout our city will have access to this vital resource that will help improve education and job opportunity. I commend Speaker Mark-Viverito, our library systems, and all partners in this inclusive program that will help close the digital divide for city residents no matter where they live or work.”
“For generations, libraries have opened up entire worlds to communities that might not otherwise have the gateway of possibilities that are found through reading,” said New York City Council Member Debi Rose. “Today, this role is not limited to lending books and offering spaces to study, but also to delivering computer and Internet access, especially in neighborhoods where the digital divide is most acute. The Library Hotspot program will give families across our city access to information that so many of us take for granted. I thank Google and the Knight News Challenge for making this possible, and I know my constituents in St. George and Stapleton look forward to the opportunities this initiative will provide.”
Local groups from the Mott Haven community – including the Dominican Sisters and East Side Settlement – also attended the event.
About The New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.
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