Bridging the Digital Divide: Library Hot Spot Lending Programs

June 16th, 2015 | 9-10 am PT | 10-11 am MT | 11 am-12 pm CT | 12-1 pm ET


  • Jill Boldenow, Community & Digital Services Director, Saint Paul Public Library
  • Luke Swarthout, Director of Adult Education Services, New York Public Library
  • Alisson Walsh, Communications and Outreach Manager, Mobile Beacon

With the movement to mobile learning becoming more prevalent in schools, closing the digital literacy divide is becoming imperative. While libraries are providing important broadband access within their walls, some libraries are developing innovative programs outside their walls to help close the divide and increase education opportunities and broadband adoption. Hot Spot Lending Programs are the latest buzz in public libraries and here is your chance to hear from those who started the lending programs with the aim of closing the digital divide and furthering their mission. Hot spots are low-cost devices that provide mobile broadband wireless Internet access anywhere. They can fit in a pocket and connect multiple devices. They bring the internet into the home for those who do not have access.

Join program leaders from New York Public Library and Saint Paul Public Library as they discuss the school and community partnerships that they developed in order to launch their Hot Spot Lending programs. They will be joined by the nonprofit Educational Service provider Mobile Beacon who has been at the forefront Hot Spot Lending in libraries. The presenters will share details about their lending policies, target audience and the sustainability of the programs. They will also share the success and challenges libraries have faced when implementing a lending program.

For more information, please contact Colleen Bragiel at mcbragiel@urbanlibraries.org.

Registration Fees

Members: $150/1st *site and $50/ea. additional site (recording included)
Non-Members: $225/1st *site and $50/ea. additional site (recording included)
*A landline (audio) and an internet connection (visual) are both needed for real-time event participation.

If your organization does not register for a ULC webinar, members may purchase the recording post-webinar for $150.

Presenter Bios

Jill Boldenow Jill Boldenow is Director of Community and Digital Services (CDS) at Saint Paul Public Library. Boldenow and the CDS staff engage people in Saint Paul with vital library resources by overseeing the library’s marketing and communications, its website and mobile app, digital learning platforms, and community-based programs—including classes and storytimes in several languages and the Bookmobile service. In 2014, Boldenow initiated “Borrow the Internet,” a project supported by a $50,000 Knight Green Line Challenge grant. The program offers library loans of Wi-Fi hotspots, which provide free, high-speed Internet service to library customers and students located near Saint Paul’s Green Line, a recently-built light rail system..
Luke Swarthout Luke Swarthout joined New York Public Library in July 2013. He works with the Adult Learning Centers, TechConnect program, and Outreach Services department to support libraries expanding educational programs. He also works on NYPL's Library Hotspot program to lend 10,000 wifi hotspots with free internet service to low-income families in New York City. Before arriving at NYPL, he served as senior education adviser to two chairmen of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. In that capacity. Luke handled issues of higher education access, college affordability, student loan debt, and school quality. Prior to working for the Senate, he served as higher education advocate for U.S. PIRG lobbying in Washington, DC, on behalf of college students for a more open and affordable higher education system. Luke attended New York City public schools and holds a BA from Amherst College and an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.
Alisson Walsh Having spent over 15 years working in the technology sector in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, Alisson Walsh finds herself now on the other side of the country and digital spectrum as a passionate digital inclusion advocate. Recently, she has joined Mobile Beacon to manage the non-profit’s broadband access offerings to schools, non-profits and libraries throughout the U.S. Mobile Beacon, a small non-profit located in Rhode Island, serves as the second largest licensee of Education Broadband Service (EBS) in the U.S. EBS is a band of spectrum reserved by the FCC for the sole purpose of education. Through this unique license, Mobile Beacon is able to provide 4G wireless service with unlimited data to schools, non-profit and libraries for $10 per month. This unique service helps community anchor institutions get the Internet access they need and extend that access within their communities. Prior to working at Mobile Beacon, Alisson was the Communications and Outreach Manager for Broadband Rhode Island, the state’s initiative to study and expand broadband coverage and adoption. Her experience with leading innovators, as well as being a participant and witness to ubiquitous Internet growth, expansion and potential, fuels her continuing commitment to help bridge the digital divide on a national and local level.