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Check out the Internet at GBPL
new slt wifi
Jennifer King, marketing librarian at the Great Bend Public Library, shows a portable WiFi Hotspot device. Starting Monday, patrons will be able to "check out the Internet." - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Starting Monday, Dec. 22, the Great Bend Public Library, 1409 Williams St., will begin lending portable WiFi Hotspot devices to library patrons wishing to expand the library’s Internet access. Wifi Hotspot lending will be part of a pilot project initiated by the State Library of Kansas, in partnership with New York Public Library and the Knight Foundation.

“Many Kansas residents rely on library Internet for job searching, homework help and e-government, so when the doors close, so does their connection,” said State Librarian Jo Budler. “Too many Kansas households do not have Internet access and this pilot project has the potential to provide 24/7 quality access to those limited to the library’s operating hours.”

The devices can be checked out for a lending period of seven days, said Jennifer King at Great Bend Public Library. The library will have six devices available through November 2015.
“We’re glad to be able to do this,” King said. “I think it’s an important service to the public.”
The devices are easy to use, have a range of about 30 feet and allow unlimited data usage. “They will sync up with about any device, whether it’s their computer or tablet or smartphone,” King said.

Borrowers are required to fill out a customer survey to help the State Library determine possibilities of expanding the program to more libraries. Borrowers must be at least 18 years old and are responsible for the safe return of the devices.

The checkout period cannot be renewed, and there is a $1 a day fee for late returns.

“This will be especially handy when we go to our temporary location,” King said. Toward the end of January, the library will close for about a week and then reopen at a temporary site for the months of February, March and April. This will be done during the installation of a geothermal heating, air conditioning and ventilation system. The temporary site will be at 3407 10th St., in the former Blockbuster video store.  
Regular library hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.