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Wi-Fi Hotspot Lending Pilot Project

BACKGROUNDER: Wi-Fi Hotspot Lending Pilot Project at London Public Library

Public libraries exist to champion universal access to information. This commitment to social equality drives every program presented, every book purchased, and every space offered by public libraries. And this objective is no less important in the age of the Internet. In keeping with their historical mandate of providing equal access to information for all people, public libraries everywhere are looking for ways to bridge the digital divide.

London Public Library (LPL) has been designing programs and services to address social and economic barriers to digital information for many years. Such initiatives include free public internet access and wifi in all branch locations, providing a wide range of instructional classes, and one-on-one assistance with technology and internet use. All of these efforts reflect LPL’s core values of access and inclusion.

LPL initiated the pilot version of a WiFi Hotspot Lending pilot program in June 2018 through grant and donor funds. The success of the pilot led us to determine that the program should become a permanent LPL service. Funds to run the program were calculated in budget planning and included in LPL’s budget request to the City of London for 2020-2023.

In November 2019, City Council tasked all of the Agencies, Boards and Commissions funded by the City - including LPL - to identify areas for potential budget reductions in the 2020-2023 Multi-Year Budget. In response, the LPL Senior Management Team and Board identified specific library activities and programs that might be affected by a reduction in the library’s operating budget. This list included the Wi-Fi Hotspot Lending program, in part because the initiative has relied on donors and alternative funding since its inception and is an excellent candidate for continuing through community partnerships. This decision enabled LPL to submit a budget to the City that does not disrupt or impede any other heavily used library services and programs.

We will make every effort to continue the program – currently funded through 2020 - through the kinds of creative and innovative partnerships that brought the initiative to life in the first place. We may also return to council in a future budget update to request additional funding. The Wi-Fi Hotspot Lending program remains core to our mandate.

 

Michael Ciccone – CEO and Chief Librarian

Mariam Hamou – Chair, LPL Board