RPL expands program offering devices to help families without reliable internet access

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(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester Public Library has expanded a program that offers internet-enabled Chromebooks to members of the community without reliable internet access.

Thanks to a $619,000 grant from the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program from the FCC, the library was able to buy 1,000 Chromebooks with a data connection. According to a press release, the program is to help "close the digital divide."

“These devices provide crucial internet service to families and individuals who need to connect with online educational resources," said Library Director Audrey Betcher.

Starting Wednesday, Olmsted County residents can borrow Chromebooks for long-term checkout that lasts until June 30, 2022. To be eligible for the program, individuals need to meet the following requirements:

  • Lack sufficient access to the Internet
  • Need a connected device primarily to support educational needs
  • Do not currently receive internet service through another state or federal program

Participants must bring a photo ID and proof of address if they do not already have a library card.

If individuals are unsure they meet the requirements, Betcher says they should contact the library. “We want to help people get the resources they need,” explains Betcher.

“Even if community members do not qualify under this program, we can often find other resources to support people.”

For more information about the Connected Chromebook Program, visit the Library during regular hours, or by calling 507-329-2309 by or email.