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Mobile Beacon and the NYPL: Loaning Out the Internet to Thousands of New Yorkers

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We just found out that TechSoup donor partner Mobile Beacon was chosen by the New York Public Library (NYPL) to provide 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspot devices as part of the library's mobile hotspot lending program.

Last summer we covered the big library tech news that mobile hotspot lending is finally getting national press. Libraries across the country have been lending out free Internet access for home use for some time now, but the trend got national attention when the New York and Chicago Public Libraries launched large-scale hotspot lending.

NYPL's program was so successful that the library has massively expanded the program.

Better Readers, BetterWorld: How a Wireless Company Supports Literacy

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As library-centric folks, it's pretty much a given that we care about literacy. We know its impact: how it increases earning potential, decreases inequality, and breaks the cycle of poverty.

We also know the sobering statistics around illiteracy. According to UNESCO, there are 740 million illiterate people worldwide. Librarians strive to decrease this number every day though literacy programs for both adults and children.

Host a Coding Class at Your Library: Resources and Tools

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Did you know? This week is National Computer Science Week! You may have heard about the Hour of Code, a fun event to get students interested in computer science. The Hour of Code can happen at any place (like the library!) at any time.

Hyperlocal and Hyperconnected: New Ways to Publicize Your Library

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I signed up for Nextdoor not really knowing what it was. Advertised as a "private social network for your neighbors," I assumed it was a place where neighbors exchanged tips on local hidden gems or important community updates. Boy, was I wrong. The majority of posts were arguments over petty things, such as the noise level of the city garbage trucks.

When I moved to a different neighborhood, I was on the verge of deleting my account, but an announcement from a neighbor about the local branch library made me think twice. After a little digging, I found out that the neighbor was actually the children's librarian at the Visitacion Valley branch of the San Francisco Public Library system.

Highlights and Learnings from CLA 2014

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Public librarians, academic librarians, LIS students, library staff, and library supporters from all over California gathered in Oakland at the California State Library Association's (CLA) annual conference. TechSoup for Libraries was in full force at the conference. We've compiled our highlights, learnings, and favorite ideas. It was a great way to see what libraries are doing on a local scale, but it was also an indicator of some trends that might take off nationally.  

Four Financial Literacy Ideas for Your Library

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Financial literacy can be both an intimidating topic to learn and teach. In October, we explored it in our Making Cents of Financial Literacy: Tech Tools and Innovative Programs webinar.

Our presenters came from libraries of different sizes:

They shared the innovative ways they're making financial literacy fun — for both patrons and staff!

E-Rate for the 21st Century: More Funding for Library Wi-Fi

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The Digital DivideFor the last 17 years, the E-rate program has helped provide schools and libraries across the U.S. with subsidized Internet service.

With almost one-third of Americans still not connected to the Internet, there has been consistent demand for increased E-rate funding. For example, TechSoup's donor partner, Mobile Beacon, has an infographic on its homepage showing that nearly 50 percent of U.S. libraries still lack sufficient Internet access to meet their patrons' needs.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responded this July with an E-rate modernization plan to increase funding to libraries and schools for high-capacity Wi-Fi and broadband.

Healthy Fear, Healthy Habits: Teaching Privacy to Patrons

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Digital peeping toms. That phrase gives you the chills, doesn't it? It scary to think that your activity online can be tracked by corporations, the government, hackers, and other nefarious (and seemingly un-nefarious) entities. But with proper education, Internet users can fight back against these digital creeps.  

Take the ALA's Digital Inclusion Survey and See Your Library's Impact

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Every day, public libraries are on the front lines of digital inclusion. You might not know it, but you are a digital inclusion hero. Your public library is most likely doing the following:

  • Providing free Internet access
  • Teaching computer classes
  • Instructing teens on how to use the Internet safely
  • Helping patrons develop job skills
  • Providing access to health information

Reading and Story Time Apps for Your Library

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A pig playing an iPad piano was the last thing I expected to see at the Association of Small and Rural Libraries (ASRL) annual conference in Tacoma, Washington. Okay, it was just a pig puppet named Bacon, but still! Jeffrey Stoffer, library assistant at the Ak-Chin Indian Community Library in Maricopa, Arizona, showed just how creative one can get in the library with a tablet full o' apps. Luckily for us, Jeffrey shared his entire ARSL presentation (warning: large PDF file). This blog post just covers the reading and story time apps, but Jeffrey also talked about social media, writing, creativity, gaming, and problem solving apps for kids. 

Kid reading on iPad

One thing to note is that Jeffrey's presentation focused on iOS apps. Some of these apps might be available on Android and Windows platforms, or there might be similar types of apps on other platforms.

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