BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — In addition to taking out literature at the Boston Public Library, patrons can now apply to lend Chromebooks and LTE-enabled Wi-Fi routers through the library's Long-Term Device Lending Program, city officials announced on Monday.
According to a statement from the BPL, the program is open to any adult Boston residents who do "not otherwise have access to equipment or services sufficient to meet their educational needs." At the launch of the program, 3,200 Chromebooks and 3,000 routers became available, with more funding requested for an additional 3,000 Chromebooks to distribute to qualifying residents.
The BPL's Long-Term Device Lending Program is funded through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, and stems from a partnership between the library, the Mayor’s Office, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, and the Boston Housing Authority.
“The internet is a critical lifeline for Boston’s residents, but financially inaccessible for many. These LTE-enabled Wi-Fi routers and Chromebooks offer an opportunity to make educational opportunities, community connection, and digital equity available to Bostonians city-wide," said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
City officials say the program will cover the cost for participants' Internet service through the end of June 2023, with a possible extension through the end of the year if the ECF approves funding.
The first come, first serve program allows for participants to borrow the devices for as long as they need, with federal funding dictating web filters be applied to the computers. Officials say those filters are managed by a third party, which will determine if sites are suitable for minors or not, in accordance with the Children's Internet Protection Act.