Boston Public Library President David Leonard and Mayor Michelle Wu today announced the city-wide offering of over 2,000 home Wi-Fi routers and Chromebooks available through the Boston Public Library’s Long-Term Device Lending Program. The program is open to any adult resident of the City of Boston who does not otherwise have access to equipment or services sufficient to meet their educational needs. The program began with 3,000 routers and 3,200 Chromebooks and additional funding has been requested for an additional 3,000 Chromebooks to distribute to residents. Learn about the Long-Term Device Lending Program and sign up for a Chromebook and/or LTE-enabled Wi-Fi router by visiting bpl.org/long-term-lending.
“The internet is a critical lifeline for Boston’s residents, but financially inaccessible for many,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “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.”
This program bridges the digital divide by providing free access to Chromebook laptops and home Internet via Wi-Fi routers, supported through funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund. The Boston Public Library is offering this program in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, and the Boston Housing Authority.
“Digital equity at the BPL means access to devices, connectivity and skills, and reaffirming our commitment to being ‘free to all’ in the modern age,” said BPL President David Leonard. “The BPL’s Long-Term Device Lending program expresses our commitment to our patrons, and connects them to all of the online services we offer, like on-demand language classes, test prep materials, digital newspaper subscriptions, and more.”
Program participants can borrow the Chromebook and/or Wi-Fi router for as long as they need. If someone does not already have a Boston Public Library card, they can visit their local branch or sign up for an electronic library card ("eCard”) with an email and home address at BPL.org/ecard. Patrons will be required to certify their need as a part of the request process.
The program is first come, first serve with a limited number of devices. Devices can be shipped directly to patron’s homes or to select community organizations who have offered to accept packages on their constituent’s behalf. The LTE-enabled Wi-Fi routers offer free internet service through the end of June 2023, with a likely extension through December of 2023 pending ECF funding approval.
Boston Public Library branches will be hosting a Long-Term Lending sign up day on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 to help residents sign up and get connected to various library resources. The BPL provides free computer and technology classes to help people use computers and the Internet, both at the Central Branch and neighborhood branch libraries. Patrons can also take free English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs for adult learners online and in person. For more information and to register for classes, please contact the Literacy Services department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.859.2446.
For BHA resident Willard "Orlando" Mebane, "the devices have allowed me to access the internet and look up ingredients in foods I know what I should stay away from, which I would otherwise not be able to do otherwise." In addition to making better diet and lifestyle choices, Mebane can also look up local music, food, and events.
This program began by distributing Chromebooks and Wi-Fi routers through the Boston Housing Authority’s communities to meet the digital needs of elderly and disabled library patrons in public housing. The BHA has mailed residents directly about the opportunity, the Mayor's Office, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and BPL staff have joined BHA coffee hours to sign residents up in person, and will be promoting the program at upcoming BHA events this spring and summer. Through this partnership, BHA staff have been able to distribute wifi routers and chromebooks to approximately 1,000 BHA households. These resources and efforts are made possible thanks to the $2.2 million provided to the BPL by Senator Ed Markey and FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel as part of the over $12 million funding the Emergency Connectivity Fund to address digital connectivity needs in Boston.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a unique, needs-based federal program funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 providing $14.2 billion to modify and extend the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) as a longer-term broadband affordability program. Currently, over 23,000 Boston residents have signed up for broadband service and devices and more than 11 million residents, nationally. ACP now provides eligible households with a discount on broadband service ($30/month) and connected devices ($100/device) as the successor to EBB and began accepting enrollments on December 31, 2021. Residents interested in learning more about the ACP can visit www.fcc.gov/acp and enroll at www.affordableconnectivity.gov.
About the Boston Public Library
Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large, free municipal library in the United States; the first public library to lend books; the first to have a branch library; and the first to have a children’s room.
The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services.
The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public.
The Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Michelle Wu. To learn more, visit bpl.org.
About Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics serves as the City's innovation incubator, building partnerships between internal agencies and outside entrepreneurs to pilot projects that address resident needs. From community green spaces to Accessory Dwelling Units, their approach to innovation is human-centered, nimble and responsive to the changing needs of our growing City.
About the Boston Housing Authority
Boston Housing Authority provides quality affordable housing for low-income families and individuals through the public housing and Section 8 rental assistance programs. We foster vital communities that are essential to our city's economic diversity and way of life. As the largest housing provider in Boston, we bring stability, opportunity, and peace of mind not only to the thousands of low-income families we support, but to the city as a whole.