Brookfield Public Library has been in the technology lending business for some time now, having started offering laptop computers for checkout by cardholders in 2010.
In the years since the library started that program with four devices, they’ve expanded it to the point where there are now 12 laptops available for checkout.
Since 2014, the library has made internet hotspots available to those without a connection at home. Now, the library circulates about 50 internet hotspots to Brookfield library car holders.
But with all of Brookfield’s high school students starting out the academic year attending classes from their homes and grade schoolers attending remotely much of the time, the library sought to make some of those devices available for students exclusively.
“Since we started with the hotspots they’ve been insanely popular,” said Christy Eyre, the partnerships and public relations librarian. “There’s always a waiting list, and there are a lot of families doing remote learning. That’s a challenge if you have to wait for a hotspot.”
Starting earlier this month, Brookfield Public Library made 10 additional internet hotspots available only to students who are Brookfield residents. A couple of weeks ago, the library made five new Dell laptop computers available for students to check out, with five more on the way.
In order to borrow a hotspot or laptop, the student must be at least 10 years old and have a Brookfield Library card in good standing – parents can’t use their cards. Students and parents (if the student is younger than 18) must also sign a Student Hotspot and Laptop Lending Agreement and provide photo ID. College students need to provide a valid college ID.
The devices can be checked out for one week at a time.
That may come as a disappointment to some who had checked out laptops and hotspots at the time schools switched to remote learning as a result of the pandemic in March. When the library also shut its doors, any student who had a hotspot or laptop checked out got to keep it until the library initiated its curbside service in June.
But library officials expect the devices to be popular with students. Even for the laptops and hotspots that circulate among the general cardholder population the wait time can be a week or more.
Brookfield Public Library has also beefed up its offerings to help remote learners with homework and school subjects. Library cardholders can access Tutor.com, which provides one-on-one tutoring services with subject experts, through the library’s website (brookfieldlibrary.info/online-resources). Other resources available there include more than 70 databases, many of which are education-related.