Rent-a-laptop program expands at Rockford Public Library after initial checkouts go fast – Rockford Register Star

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Rent-a-laptop program expands at Rockford Public Library after initial checkouts go fast – Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD — Putting Google Chromebooks and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots in the city's Montague Library was such a success that library officials have expanded

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ROCKFORD — Putting Google Chromebooks and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots in the city’s Montague Library was such a success that library officials have expanded to another location.

Hart Interim Library, 214 N. Church St., became the newest library on July 14 to offer the items for loan. They are also available through the mobile library

“I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly they checked out here,” said Aaron Carlin, assistant director of branch services for Rockford Public Library. “I’ve been present when a few families have come in and checked them out. And they’ve been really excited and thankful. That’s been a warm feeling to know that it’s made a difference in quite a few people’s lives already.”

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Library cardholders 18 and older were first able to check out a Google Chromebook in June. 

“Here at Montague, we had 18 allocated to this location, and they were all checked out within the first week,” Carlin said.

They have seven-day and 90-day checkout options. The hotspots can be borrowed for up to three weeks.

The library is doing surveys to determine if the check out period needs adjusting. 

“Out of the 50 that we have, 38 are available for the longer-term period, the 90-day checkout,” he said. “And then the 12 out of the 50 are the shorter seven-day checkout period.”

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There’s a lending agreement stating that the library cardholder is responsible for replacement costs. Some of those include: Chromebook, $345, charging cord, $51, carrying case, $27, and a $5 per day fee for overdue items.

A library staff member will mentor the borrower on using the device and they’re available during business hours for assistance. 

Funding came from a $50,000 grant thanks to partners like the Region 1 Planning Council. Carlin said that during the early days of the pandemic, people didn’t have access to computers. 

“Our libraries were closed. People couldn’t come in and use the computers like they were previously used to. They come here because they don’t have it at home or they don’t have Wi-Fi at home.

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“It’s a pretty exciting expansion. Libraries across the world offer technology so that people can have access to digital literacy. We’re fighting the digital divide by keeping people connected to devices like these. This is part of our role of helping the people of Rockford have access to tools and devices.”

For more information

For more information, call, email, or visit the Rockford Public Library website.

Hart Interim Library: 815-965-7606

Montague Library: 815-966-2740

Andrea V. Watson: awatson@rrstar.com@andreavwatson12

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