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Laptop Lending Program

Miami-Dade Public Library System

Innovation Leader: Georgina Del Valle, Automated Services Administrator, delvalleg@mdpls.org

Problem Statement

Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) is the largest provider of free Internet in Miami-Dade County. Increasing demands for Internet access from our residents and limited availability of computers results in long wait times and time limits which negatively impact customer service and satisfaction. For example, many government and business functions are moving exclusively into the computer realm. Without sufficient computer access, our customers could be shut out of applying for jobs, food stamps, or visas.

Innovation

MDPLS combines wireless computer access with a laptop lending program. At any of its library locations, customers can use library- provided laptop computers in-house, and have wireless Internet access. This supplements the Library’s wired network infrastructure, supporting staff computers and 896 public workstations. The fully operational 521 laptops satisfy customers ever increasing computer needs. In combination with a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) simultaneously rolled out, customers can use their own personal wireless devices (e.g. laptops, iTouch/smartphones, or any other web-enabled electronics) equipped with Wi-Fi cards to more quickly and effectively use a growing wealth of online knowledge.

Progress

The Program has enhanced the number of customers able to access MDPLS network resources. It has also caused a marked decrease in the amount of time needed to wait to use a computer. Customers bringing their own wireless-enabled laptops take advantage of the access, as well as using the Library purely as study or work space. Customers borrowing laptops enjoy these benefits and don’t have to buy or carry in their own hardware. Wireless laptop capability has given library users more flexibility in using study rooms and all potential work spaces within and around libraries. The hindrance of small work stations being unable to accommodate two users at once is overcome with computers which are easy to share. Study partners can collaborate on projects and friends can share headphones for entertainment purposes. They can access library information from outside within a limited range. Even outdoor areas such as courtyards are now tied into electronic resources. An added benefit is that both the laptop and WLAN availability has presented modular training options. Our dependency on limited computer lab space has lessened. Any part of any facility can potentially be used for staff or public training. Enhanced computer access has moved the Library forward in its evolving and innovative role of enabling communications.