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Helping Bridge the Internet Divide

Posted by Yves Etheart

For too many people in Queens and the rest of New York City, the digital divide means very real barriers to education, job opportunities, and the tasks of daily living.

As Mayor Bill de Blasio put it, “The digital divide creates a fundamental difference between those who have access to economic and educational opportunities and those who do not.”

Queens Library serves as the borough’s technology hub, bringing computer and Internet access to everyone in our borough who visits our libraries, especially the customers who used our 1,581 public computers over 3 million times last year, and who have borrowed Google and Samsung tablets from us over 15,000 times since we started lending them in 2013.

Now, as a new school year starts, we’re proud to help the city’s students connect to the Internet at home.

Twenty-six percent of New York City households—813,000 homes—have no broadband Internet, according to research conducted by the NYC Comptroller’s Office. Twenty-two percent of Queens households (over 270,000 homes) have no broadband Internet, and nearly 350,000 New Yorkers age 18 and younger have no home broadband Internet access.

The ConnectED Library Hotspot Loan Program is a Queens Library partnership with the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the NYC Department of Education to offer free Wi-Fi hotspots to public school students and their families, providing them with home broadband Internet access to help them bridge the educational and digital gap.

The ConnectED Library Hotspot Loan Program is open to library customers who are at least 18 years old; have a child in a New York City public school; have no household Internet access; and have a valid Queens Library card. Last year, we loaned hotspots to over 2,000 families!

Hotspots are available to borrow from multiple Queens Library locations. For a list of community libraries where you can borrow a hotspot, visit http://queenslib.org/QNSHotspot.

“The great disparities in broadband access in New York City are often based on factors like age, education, employment status, and race,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “The populations that are most in need of our library services are often the ones most affected by these disparities. We’re glad that, with programs like ConnectED, we can do our best to bring the benefits and advantages of technology to everyone.”