A year-long pilot program through the library system will allow eligible members who live in neighborhoods with weak Internet service to rent out portable WiFi devices for up to a year. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Hundreds of families around New York City will be able to take the Internet home with them with help from the New York Public Library.
A year-long pilot program through the library system will allow eligible members who live in neighborhoods with weak Internet service to rent out portable WiFi devices for up to a year.
Users who want to take part in the initiative, called "Check Out the Internet," will need to be enrolled in at least one New York Public Library program, including its after-school or adult literacy classes.
Library officials said an internal study found that 55 percent of its patrons reported not having broadband access at home, ballooning to 65 percent in household with income below $25,000.
It led the library to create an earlier, smaller pilot with 100 families in Staten Island and the Bronx.
The new program hopes to reach some 10,000 households not just in the New York Public Library but also the Brooklyn and Queens library systems at a cost of $500,000. The bill will picked up by the Knight Foundation.
"In a world where access to the internet is necessary for almost any important task — applying for jobs, doing school work, paying bills," NYPL President Tony Marx said in a statement, "it is unacceptable that so many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers would be left behind."