Valerie Baute: From hotspots to laptops, library keeps you connected

From board games to video games, seed packets to tablets, our Library of Things is growing constantly at the Bartholomew County Public Library. Thanks to a grant through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, we now have a multitude of new devices that can help you connect to the internet. We are rolling them out as quickly as they come in.

The first devices we were able to get on our shelves in February were Verizon hotspots. These handy little items allow you to connect up to five devices to the internet anywhere there is a Verizon signal. This could come in handy if your internet is temporarily out at home. You can borrow one of the hotspots to get you through for a few days.

Maybe you are camping out in the woods. There is always a chance your remote camping spot might not get a signal, but you can sometimes move the hotspot around to find a spot that works. Once you have that signal, you can connect your devices to it. This allows you to move freely around the campsite, not locked to the one spot that has a strong signal. I hope that you spend plenty of time enjoying nature, but it is nice to know the internet is there when you need it.

While the hotspots are a great way to connect your own devices to the internet, sometimes you need a computer. What happens when your laptop breaks in the middle of a big project and you are not able to get it fixed or replaced right away? What about when your child has to give their school-provided device back before their final assignments are due? We have a device for that now too.

Come check out our Chromebooks. These simple laptop devices allow you to browse the internet or work on files. They can also be checked out just to use within the library. This way you can find a quiet location to work or surf the internet.

Something many people probably do not realize is that our Chromebooks come with SIM cards. This means they are connected to the internet anywhere that Verizon service is available. The one thing to remember is that our Chromebooks reset every time they are restarted, so be sure to save your work online.

To borrow any of these devices, you need to have a valid local library card, which you can get at any circulation desk, at our Hope branch, or on the Bookmobile. Once you have your card, you can stop by the reference desk at the Columbus branch or the circulation desk at the Hope branch to take one of the devices home. These items are on a first-come, first-serve basis now, but we might start allowing holds to be placed on them in the future.

We had been discussing the idea of circulating these and similar devices for a while now. Thanks to the Emergency Connectivity Fund, we were able to purchase these items and pay for their service fees for the first few months. This allows us to test them out, work out any issues, figure out the number we want to keep, and continue the service well past the time the funds run out. Make sure to stop in and check them out, and see what other fun items we have available through our Library of Things.