Seeking librarians' input on hotspot lending
June 3, 2016 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Our local library will soon start lending mobile wi-fi hotspot devices (similarly to what BPL and KPL have done), and I am interested to learn about the experience of others who have engaged in similar projects.

We're currently trying to determine some of the practical aspects, like how long should the lending period be? Should we seek to emulate the (very light) Internet filtering we have at our branches? Should we restrict lending by age? What potential liability issues should we consider, if any? Et cetera.

If you have some experience with this (or have grappled with some of these questions when planning a potential provision of this service) I would love to hear your thoughts. I'm also interested in hearing about some of the roadblocks and issues you may have encountered.

posted by papafrita to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have a librarian friend I could connect you with on this topic, she sometimes sends me interesting things from an Urban Libraries Council mailing list. We don't lend them but I know a lot of people who do. What I've generally heard is

- these are usually grant-funded projects or there's some sort of "donation" of the hotspots because they are not cheap
- often the bandwidth is capped on a per month basis so that there's not an issue of overages. Libraries have been pretty good at making materials "What does 6 GB mean?" for patrons who may not understand that
- lending periods are usually long, like several months, though they could be short.
- Emulating filtering would be really challenging since usually these are just direct-to-consumer devices unless you somehow rig them to work with your VPN
- because they're expensive, you'd have a hard time getting the okay to lend them to kids, I think

Drop me an email if you want me to put you in touch with my librarian pal, I don't know if she's a MeFite, if so I'll get her to chime in here.
posted by jessamyn at 2:53 PM on June 3, 2016

I'd be willing to talk about this, but not in a public forum. Please feel free to email memail me.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:48 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Quite a few libraries here in central Ohio, including my own, offer hotspot lending. You can find borrowing policy details on their websites. If you reach out directly to those libraries, I suspect folks would be happy to answer your other questions. Memail if you'd like me to help point you to specific libraries.
posted by kittydelsol at 5:33 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our library just started a really exciting pilot program for lending out kits of hotspots and Chromebooks.

I've been working with a few others on the program, as we try to figure out answers to some of the same questions you have here. So far, things have been going great.

I'd be happy to talk specifics about the project through MeMail, so feel free to drop a note.
posted by banal retentive at 3:36 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

The library I work at and another in the district are in the process of relaunching our Borrow the Internet programs. Once things start rolling, I can MeMail you to answer the questions above.
posted by Become A Silhouette at 7:19 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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