The Cedar Rapids Public Library is increasing the number of laptops available for patrons to borrow from the library thanks to funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The laptops are part of an effort to expand computer access for patrons, a need highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The library continues to seek opportunities to reduce barriers to access for our patrons,” said Library Director Dara Schmidt. “Thanks to funding from the FCC, we will be able to grow this valuable resource and provide more opportunity for all of our community to access this critical technology.”
Laptops are available for 10-day checkout from the library. One laptop per library card holder 18 years and older, with a photo ID. They can be placed on hold through the library catalog or picked up in the library as they are available.
The library also circulates laptop kits which include one Chromebook laptop and a WiFi hotspot, which can also be borrowed for ten days at a time.
Laptop kits are valued at $350 and must be returned directly to a staff member at the Library. If they are overdue, the kit will shut off, rendering the hardware useless. Patrons agree to the replacement costs if the kit is not returned to the library. Laptops will be cleared each time the patron shuts down the computer or ends their session. Laptops have internet capabilities only, without additional software such as Microsoft Word, and nothing can be saved to the desktop.
For patrons with their own devices but no home internet access, the library has been lending WiFi hot spots for up to 10 days at a time since 2017, in collaboration with the Hiawatha and Marion Public Libraries through the Metro Library Network.