(To hear our interview with Google’s Darcy Nothnagle about the grant, click on the grey podcast bar at the bottom of the page.)
THE DALLES, Ore., February 14, 2017 – At an event held today, The Dalles-Wasco County Library announced that, thanks to a grant from Google, library patrons will be able to check out WiFi hotspots, similar to the way that they would check out a book. The program provides library patrons with mobile access to the internet for free, and is the first program of its kind in Oregon.
Through this WiFi Hotspot Lending Program, library patrons in The Dalles and Maupin with a current library card can check out hotspots for three-week periods. Laptop computers will also be available for checkout through the library.
“Google has bestowed a unique opportunity for learning on the library and the students of The Dalles,” said The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence.
The goal of the new program is to bridge the digital divide in Wasco County. Household income is one of the major factors that hinder people from accessing the internet.
“Having internet access isn’t just a luxury these days, it’s a necessity for school assignments, applying for jobs, and staying connected with the world,” said Darcy Nothnagle, Google. “We hope this program will provide greater access and greater opportunity for the entire community.”
Google and the library hope this program will not only help increase access, but also critical digital literacy skills. Over the last 2 years, Google has contributed approximately $200,000 in funding through several different grants for The Dalles-Wasco County Library for technology enhancements, including upgrades to library computers and enhancing the wifi at the Library, and for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in the new wing.
In 2015, Google also provided an $87,880 grant for the Maupin Broadband Project to assist in bringing high speed broadband to the Maupin Community and establishing free public Wi-Fi at Maupin’s Riverfront Park and the Maupin Branch of the Wasco County Library District. The grant also connected the Branch Library to the Main Library in The Dalles and provides free internet on library computers for patrons.
“We’re excited to partner with Google to provide this new WiFi Hotspot Lending Program to our local patrons,” said Jeff Wavrunek, district librarian, The Dalles-Wasco County Library. “Google’s support has been key to enhancing our ability to assist patrons through technology and programs.”
This program is just one way Google is committed to playing a positive role in The Dalles-Wasco County community. Since 2008, Google has awarded more than $1.6 million to Wasco County nonprofits and schools.