Welcome and Thank You!

Dear Visitors,

Welcome to the blog of our Institute of Museum and Library Sciences funded project, “At the Edges of the National Digital Platform”.  This blog highlights some of the qualitative research that our team is undertaking in rural communities and in the libraries that serve their populations.

Since the initiation of this project, our team has visited more than thirty communities that either participated in public library WiFi Hotspot lending programs or are close to a program nearby. We’ve had conversations with over 90 individuals regarding their community or regional technology and communications ecosystems. We’ve also held nine group meetings to speak with patrons regarding economic and information needs unique to their region, and hope to have more throughout the winter months. Each visit and each conversation adds more detail to the present shape of rural connectivity. We are discovering the myriad ways that libraries help ameliorate rural digital divides and the value Hotspot programs bring to small communities.

US Cellular MiFi Device used by the Maine State Grant program.
US Cellular MiFi Device used by the Maine State Grant program.

Our data collection is still ongoing, but we have already gathered preliminary insights regarding strategies for successful Hotspot lending programs that are highlighted throughout the pages of this blog. If you’re browsing today because you’re thinking of starting a Hotspot program in your local community, please see our attached “How-To” guide. Also, see our streaming webinar presentation which is available to watch on YouTube. The Webinar discusses information on Library Hotspot programs in Rural and Urban locations, highlights best-practices of lending, and shares some of the results of our current research.

Due to the fact that this study is still in progress, these posts are for your personal reading and we thank you in advance for not using these posts for publication. Please contact the research team if you are interested in more information about the project.

Sincerely,

Sharon, Colin, and Brian

MiFi Lending Program Snapshots and Deliverable Materials