Betty Martin, director of the Cape Girardeau Public Library, is not afraid to take a chance.
The Cape Girardeau Public Library, located 115 miles southeast of St. Louis and just down the hill from Southeast Missouri State University, boasts a roster of innovative programming that would give even large metropolitan libraries pause.
The library’s programs include community passport registration programs, weekly knitting and crochet groups, blood drives, a plethora of guest speaking events, a "broke holidays" crafting series, and even a telescope lending program.
One of their latest innovations is to loan out Internet access to students and job seekers to take home, thanks to the TechSoup Mobile Beacon donation program.
A Trial-and-Error Approach to Programming
Betty's approach to staying in tune with the changing needs of her library's patrons is to resolve to embrace the process of trial and error. These days, the Cape Girardeau Public Library is seeing more and more successful programming, which Betty credits in no small part to the library's dynamic Adult Services program librarian.
The library works hard to create fresh and unexpected programming for the library's adult patrons in particular. It has of late redoubled its efforts to make sure that social media is leveraged as a tool to advertise these programs across all the library's platforms. Betty says that her library is slowly but surely finding the "magic recipe" to ensure that all programs see a measure of success. The common thread? A resourceful use of available technology.
Lending Out Internet Access
The runaway hit of the library's recent focus on inventive adult programming has been without question the Mobile Beacon hotspot lending program. The team at the Cape Girardeau Public Library first got wind of Mobile Beacon hotspots when a consultant from a major mobile Internet service provider paid a visit to Betty and her team.
Betty was intrigued by the idea of portable hotspots, but when she heard what the service provider's quote was, she did what any librarian would do. She headed straight for her desk and put out a call for information about Mobile Beacon hotspots to her listserv.
Ever the friendly neighbor, the Rolling Hills Library responded to Betty's call for information with a workable solution: the Mobile Beacon donation program through TechSoup. The library placed the request, and soon the Cape Girardeau Public Library was the proud new owner of five Mobile Beacon hotspots.
"We have a small budget, but we do the best we can with what we have. …We really appreciate how easy it was to get the hotspots through TechSoup — how quickly they arrived and how simple they were to use."
Why At-Home Internet Access Matters
Betty says that when implementing a hotspot lending program at her library, she had two users in mind: students and job seekers. Betty remarks that "the digital divide is getting wider and wider, and if you don't have Internet at home, you do get left out of a lot."
Being able to check out hotspots for a weeklong period affords students the opportunity to use their laptops at home without the nagging anxiety about how the day's homework will get done. Job seekers are able to stay abreast of the latest job postings and receive follow-up emails from potential employers.
How Cape Girardeau Library Manages Mobile Hotspot Lending
The initiative to lend out Mobile Beacon hotspots has been smooth thus far. The devices are checked out with an instructional card explaining how to use them. Late returns have not been too much of an issue because devices can be turned off remotely. And for the most part, patrons are impressed and appreciate that this service is available for their use … a feeling that is evidenced by a wait list, which at the moment, stands at a whopping 60 people.
Ready to Start a Hotspot Lending Program at YOUR Library?
The Mobile Beacon donation program at TechSoup provides 4G LTE mobile broadband hotspots to eligible nonprofits, charities, schools, and libraries throughout the United States.
You can use these 4G LTE mobile hotspots to connect to the Internet from any location within the 4G coverage area. The 4G devices must be used with a subscription to Mobile Beacon's 4G mobile broadband service for nonprofits. The subscription is $10 per device per month for unlimited data.
Images: Cape Girardeau Public Library