It’s been two weeks since Riverside Regional Library started offering portable Wi-Fi hotspots for the public to check out, and the service has already proven itself to be a valuable asset to the community. The library currently has five hotspots that are in circulation, which were bought with general operating funds through partnered nonprofits, TechSoup and Mobile Beacon.
Riverside Regional Library Director, Jeff Trinkle said the nontraditional service is becoming common in a number of libraries throughout the state. Last year, the Cape Girardeau Public library bought five hotspots from TechSoup. At the time, there were nearly 60 people on a waiting list to check out the hotspots.
“Internet connectivity is vital to everybody now, in all walks of life, and having to do so many things online,” Trinkle said. “So it’s just a service I think we need to provide.”
Trinkle said the hotspots function like a cell phone plan. The library is given a number after signing up for a plan, and receive a year’s worth of unlimited data. They work off of a cell tower, and rely on good coverage, but they’re aimed at those experiencing trouble finding reliable high speed internet.
The hotspots in stock at Riverside Regional’s main branch in Jackson can be put on hold at local branches in Perryville, Altenburg, Benton, Scott City, and Oran, and are delivered at least once a week. Trinkle said it’s a permanent service and collection for Riverside Regional Library, but they’re still monitoring the demand for the hotspots to determine if they should expand the service.