News Highlights: Sno-Isle Libraries provide checkout laptops, Wi-Fi | Arts & Entertainment.
Sno-Isle Libraries now offers checkout laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to help local residents maintain Internet access.
The laptops and hot spots are available at all Sno-Isle libraries, including the Marysville, Arlington and Lakewood / Smokey Point libraries.
Checkout is for one week, which can be extended by an additional week if no other library customers have set a hold.
The initiative started because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made Internet access even more important to members of the community than it used to be.
“Sno-Isle libraries have started Laptops to Go and Wi-Fi Hotspots to Go to meet the needs of customers doing more at home and online than a year ago, ”said Kurt Batdorf, communications specialist at Sno-Isle Libraries. “Laptops to Go can assist customers who may need faster technology in the short term to assist with connectivity, school projects or job search and online applications. “
The Wi-Fi hotspots offered as part of the package are also intended to help people with slow or limited internet.
Providing computer technology to the public is an integral part of the library systems, but as the COVID-19 pandemic has closed libraries, access has been cut.
“The public computers in our community libraries were very popular when our libraries were open. Knowing that, we wanted to find a way to creatively meet that need until we could reopen community libraries to the public, ”said Batdorf.
The first program to help reopen that access began in October, when Sno-Isle Libraries began lending out laptops for use in local library parking lots. That service will now remain available, as will POS laptops and WiFi hotspots.
“We hope our customers take advantage of Laptops to Go and Wi-Fi Hotspots to Go to help them alleviate some of the difficulties and complications of the coronavirus pandemic, ”said Batdorf.
The checkout process for laptops is similar to getting physical items such as a book. However, customers must have a valid Sno-Isle Libraries card with a barcode, so online-only library accounts are not eligible for the program.
The POS laptops come with a power cord, instructions for use, webcam, microphone and speakers.
They are also configured with software similar to that found on typical library computers, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, image editing software, sound editing software, and Adobe Reader.
“As for the limitations, customers will not be able to store files on the laptop’s desktop or hard drive, although they can store files on their own external USB drive,” said Batdorf.
There is no CD or DVD drive, so customers who want to listen to music or watch media should stream it.
“The laptops don’t have data access like a Google Chromebook. That means customers must provide their own Internet access, whether at home or through a public Wi-Fi system, ”said Batdorf.
Free WiFi is available outside of the Sno-Isle Libraries premises. The Wi-Fi Hotspots use a cell signal to enable internet speeds when the cell signal is weak in an area.
The program is funded in part by $ 96,000 from the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation and $ 50,000 received from the federal coronavirus relief bill passed in March.