PHOENIX — Bridging the digital divide. It's an effort not just happening in schools. Our community libraries are also stepping up during the pandemic. Libraries across the Valley are evolving to help so many.
"We've expanded and we've grown,” said Phoenix Public Library Re-engagement Advisor Narda Aldaco.
Seven years have passed since Aldaco started working with the library system.
Fast forward to now, during the pandemic, COVID has fueled lots of changes for visitors from checking out books to using technology.
"Anyone can walk in here, use their library card and get access to a desktop for 45 minutes or up to an hour or more depending on what needs you have,” added Aldaco.
COVID forced the library network to adjust how people accessed the internet at its 17 branches.
The library extended its public wi-fi's reach from the inside around the bookshelves to the outside parking lot.
"They can come and go as they please. They don't have to walk inside Burton Bar, they don't have to walk inside to get access to a hotspot. They can sit outside in the comfort of their car and access anything online they would need,” added Aldaco.
The library system also started loaning laptops and hotspots to card-holders for three weeks at a time.
"It can be the difference between being left behind because you don’t have access to technology or hotspot or resources you need to be online,” added Aldaco.
The pandemic doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon and the same goes for those who need the internet to help make their lives better. For that reason, the library expects to soon add 700 more hot spots to loan.
"The ability to check out a wi-fi hotspot from the library for free and be able to take it into their own setting to use it with their own device while taking care of the things they need to take care of will make a world of difference to them,” said Phoenix Public Library Community Relations Manager Lee Franklin.
All in an effort to bridge the digital divide.