Mobile Wifi Hotspots

I’m getting ready to kick off a few of my new outreach projects this Spring, including roving business reference and a book bike. The one common thread with all of these projects is the WiFi issue. I want to be able to do reference and borrowing services on site no matter where in town I am.

Currently, the library uses Comcast for internet services. While Comcast has some hotspots throughout town (train stations), I’ve found that it’s not always reliable. It seems to go in and out often, and I wonder if this has to do with the volume of use. Some local businesses offer WiFi, too, but I’d prefer to use both of these free services as backups to a personally controlled device.

It took a few searches to come up with the appropriate keywords. It appears that what I’m looking for is a “MiFi,” and Novatel’s device was “Editor’s Choice” a few years back: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385018,00.asp

xfinity MiFi

xfinity MiFi

According to some articles published in 2011, Comcast only charges $25 for the device. Naturally, a search of their site doesn’t show any pages with purchase details. When I chatted with a rep, she said that Comcast still has the MiFi. I can find it by looking on “comcast.net.” Ha. I didn’t have time to ask for a direct webpage and signed off. I plan to look more into the costs, etc. after the holidays.

Here’s to 2015 being the year of fun, busy, effective outreach!

Link

Libraries Transforming Communities

Here’s a great article with a Q&A from one of the initiative’s participant libraries:

“Turning Outward”: How Well Do You Know Your Community?
Thu, 07/17/2014
Editor’s Note: Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) — an initiative of the American Library Association — seeks to strengthen librarians’ roles as core community leaders and change-agents by sharing tools to help them “turn outward,” an approach developed by the The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. All of these resources are available, free of charge, on the LTC website.
Libraries around the country are already putting the “turning outward” approach to work in their communities. Alice Knapp is director of user services at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn.; in October 2013, she attended a Harwood Public Innovators Lab. Here, Knapp tells ALA about her library’s experience with “turning outward.”…

Earlier this year, I toyed with the idea of submitting our library to take part in this. Unfortunately, the time demands were pretty high. Maybe next year (if it gets continued…). It seems like a great way to redirect the focus of library services for continuity.

Link

“Hotspot at Home” Program

“Hotspot at Home” Program

Chicago PL is trying to get a grant to fund a program whereby patrons in low-income communities can loan out an internet hotspot.

I can’t imagine how they’ll be able to coordinate such an effort. I also wonder if they’ll have some sort of income contingency, or a “hold list” with a limit to how many times a family can check it out each year. But what a terrific way to really reach out to serve information needs. Makes my outreach efforts pale in comparison.