PWPL Decreases Digital Divide by Loaning Chromebooks, Offering Free Wi-Fi 24/7

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By Katrina Wilson

Sponsored by Prince William Public Libraries

Prince William Public Libraries now loans Chromebook laptops for three weeks at a time for library card holders.

The addition of the Chromebooks to Prince William Public Libraries’ collection seeks to decrease the digital divide in the county. Digital Divide is when individuals may not have access to communications technology or information due to their demographic or location.

According to Pew Research Center, the digital divide conversation has been around for decades and has gained momentum during COVID-19 for those who worked or went to school remotely. Research showed that many lower-income families dealt with obstacles while navigating the digital environment, including accessibility.

How is this a gamechanger?

“Prince William Public Libraries is fully committed to providing resources and services to get more residents connected to the internet and lessening the digital divide,” said Rachel Johnson, PWPL’s communications and marketing director.

There is a Chromebook Tutorial for extra information.

The Chromebook will come with a carrying case and a two-piece charger (charging cable and power adapter).

Users do not need to have a Google account to utilize the Chromebook. Users can create one in advance of use.  A Google account stores bookmarks and passwords across internet connected devices.

After checking out a Chromebook, residents are encouraged to review a Chromebook Tutorial created by PWPL for extra information.

While the Chromebooks are not connected to the internet, those who also need internet can check out a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot from the library. The hotspots provide free internet access at home and can be checked out for three weeks.

“By providing both Chromebooks and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, we’re giving more people the ability to access the internet from anywhere for free,” she said.

She said users must have their Prince William Public Libraries card with them when checking out a Chromebook.

“If you do not yet have a library card, you can visit any of the 12 branches throughout Prince William County and the City of Manassas. Library cards are free for residents – you only need to show proof of residence to receive a library card,” Johnson said.

Johnson reminds the public that Prince William Public Libraries provides computers at each of its 12 branches throughout the county and City of Manassas. There is free Wi-Fi available at any branch location, including 24/7 access in the parking lots. More information is available here.

Both Chromebooks and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots are part of Prince William Public Libraries’ permanent collection.





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