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San Diego County Library offers laptops to help close the digital divide

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The San Diego County Library system is providing laptops and Wi-Fi hot spot connections for free. The new technology offered can be checked out as conveniently as a book.

“This is a great example of how the library creatively responds to serve our community,” said County Library Director Miguel Acosta. “These resources provide important online access that can support education, health care services, employment options and connect them to a myriad of county services.”

Seven thousand Chromebooks and accessories were obtained with an emergency $4.3 million grant from the Federal Communications Commission. The funding provided some relief in the digital divide to those falling behind and through the cracks.

“Everybody needs an internet connection to be successful in life,” said Melissa Solis, manager of the County Library Adult Services. Solis helped inventory the Chromebooks available at the Lincoln Acres county library in National City.

Selina Williams and her son Jayden, 11, checked out their device for homeschooling use. Although they have a home in Escondido, they travel around the country in a retrofitted transport van.

“With Jayden, instead of taking six hours and sitting down and saying ‘do school’, we live school,” Williams said.

As they travel across the country, Williams homeschools her son who has special needs, and she has special needs of her own. She has lessons in physical science planned for their next road trip to the Grand Canyon.

While supplies last, anyone with a San Diego County library card can check out an ASUS Chromebook C204, ATT Moxee Hotspot device, and charging cables free of charge for up to one year.

The technology program requires users to sign a form saying they do not have sufficient equipment or services to access the internet. Children need to have a parent or caregiver complete the form to check out a set.

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