Boston Public Library Offers Free Wifi Hubs, Computer Access

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Two new digital initiatives have been launched around some of Boston's libraries, designed to provide residents reliable computer and internet access for the foreseeable future.

At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Marty Walsh said Boston Public Library's first initiative, "The Public Computer Access program," will allow residents to sign up for a two-hour appointment to use library computers in a socially distanced space within the Central Library in Copley Square.

The Public Computer Access program will be the first initiative since the start of COVID-19 that allows patrons to use facilities inside the library building. To ensure visitor and staff safety, patrons are required to maintain physical distance and wear masks at all times, and the computer room will be fully sanitized between each two-hour appointment slot.

Teen and adult patrons can begin booking Public Computer Access appointments at the Central Library in Copley Square on the BPL website here or by phone at (617) 536-5400.

The second initiative, entitled "The Outdoor Wi-Fi Program," provides 24-hour outdoor internet access at nine BPL branch locations across the city, allowing users to socially distance while accessing the internet for free.

The Outdoor Wi-Fi Program will create free wi-fi access points at BPL branches in Mattapan, Codman Square, Parker Hill, Hyde Park, Grove Hall, Egleston Square, East Boston, Honan-Allston, and South End.

"These locations were chosen according to data reflecting at-home broadband adoption, household income, and availability of nearby outdoor seating," Mayor Walsh said. "Outdoor areas such as parks and parking lots near the BPL locations will be ready for public use starting today."

To access the internet, Walsh said users will need to bring their own device, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and must maintain physical distancing. There is currently no time limit to an individual's Internet use and access will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Walsh said the City's Public Computer Access and Outdoor Wi-Fi programs will help residents cope with the coronavirus pandemic and contributing to the City's ongoing efforts to expand digital equity.

"Boston's libraries play a vital role in our communities by providing digital access to all," Walsh said. "We're increasing the availability of these critical resources ... at BPL branches across Boston. Digital access at the BPL helps Boston residents find jobs, attend classes, download e-books, or just check email and read the news. By providing computer and Wi-Fi access, we will provide a digital lifeline to many Bostonians, helping our libraries fulfill their mission to provide educational and cultural resources, free to all."

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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