SLPL offering free WiFi until next summer

St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) is offering residents the chance for free internet connectivity for the next seven months.

SLPL applied for funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund to purchase 4,000 hotspots to be used by St. Louis residents who don’t otherwise have internet connectivity.

The ECF is a federal program, which gives funding to schools and libraries to provide internet connectivity to communities.

“Internet access is a necessity of modern life,” said Waller McGuire, CEO of St. Louis Public Library. “One thing the pandemic made clear is that connectivity is no longer a luxury, but a lifeline. The digital divide is a painful challenge for much of St. Louis. The Library serves thousands of people every week coming through our doors to connect to much of the world locked behind a digital wall. Providing these hotspots will let thousands of St. Louisans take a solution home.”

Cardholders who check out the hotspots can keep the device until June 30, 2022. Each hotspot can provide internet connectivity for up to 15 different devices at a time.

 To check out one of these hotspots, an individual will need to:

* be a resident of the city without internet access at home

* need WiFi for an educational purpose

* visit one of the 16 SLPL locations

* have an SLPL card or sign up for a card

 "The Internet is essential for access to government and community resources, employment opportunities, and knowledge, and many still lack that access," said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. "St. Louis Public Library has always sought to break down barriers within our communities, and by providing hotspots to those that need it most they are continuing that tradition. I am grateful for their dedication to helping families overcome the technological divide."

Hotspots are pocket-sized WiFi devices that are easy to use and offer individuals without internet access an opportunity to have broadband anywhere. One hotspot connects up to fifteen smartphones, tablets, or computers to the internet.

SLPL hotspots are limited to one per household. Even cardholders who have outstanding fees on their accounts can check out a hotspot.