We’ve added a new Professional Resource page on LearnHQ on mobile Wifi hotspots – it’s got some basic tech information, examples of library programs and policies, and more. It’s amazing what these devices can do to bridge the digital divide, especially for those patrons who do not have internet access at home.
Some libraries have asked whether SOLS might offer a discount on hotspots. In general, we tend to avoid discounts that are offered elsewhere, as to not reinvent the wheel (or the WiFi as the case may be). But we always like to follow up with the vendors or organizations involved in discounted purchases, and make sure that a) libraries can participate b) vendors understand how libraries will use their product.
In the case of hotspots, the Ontario Government’s Vendor of Record program already had a large list of vendors with discounts on the hardware and/or monthly internet connectivity. (Public libraries can participate in all VOR offers – you just need to be registered as a public sector buyer.) I contacted each to to explain how libraries use hotspots, and to see what kind of internet coverage they had across the province.
I’ve had a very positive response from Rogers, who are enthusiastic supporters of libraries using their offer for circulating hotspots. They have a single contact person for public libraries, and I’ve listed her the details in the “Other Purchasing Offers” section of our web site.
I’ve also contacted the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN), as they have a purchasing program that includes wireless networks (but no hotspots yet). I’ll make sure to stay in touch with them, and will let our libraries know if they offer any options in future.