Low angle shot of four international clever bookworms students in the library studying, sitting with crossed legs on the floor together, using books and devices, huge book shelves background

Glendale residents will find it easier to log on to the internet with Wi-Fi, thanks to $8,000 in grants awarded in 2020 from the Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records, a division of the secretary of state’s office. 

Glendale city staff briefed the library advisory board during a Feb. 10 meeting on the city’s hotspot lending program that offers Wi-Fi in areas of limited internet availability. The program launched in January. 

“We plan for the Wi-Fi hotspots to allow the Glendale Public Library to provide internet services to patrons who may not have access due to financial barriers,” said Natalie Menges, a Glendale librarian who participated in the grant application process. 

Hotspots are available to anybody over the age of 18 with a Glendale Public Library card. Only one hotspot per household can be checked out at any given time. Hotspots can be checked out for three weeks and cannot be renewed.

Through the program, the Glendale Public Library intends on “improving patron autonomy and working to minimizing the digital divide,” Menges said.

As defined by the city’s website, a hotspot is “a mobile device that allows access to the internet on your Wi-Fi-equipped smartphones, laptops, computers, tablets, etc.”

Up to 15 devices can be connected to one hotspot, which operates on Sprint’s 4G LTE network. 

This was needed because the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated much of the on-site services provided to residents. 

“Because of the pandemic, with everyone doing virtual and a lot of people working from home, we want to be able to give people the option to have internet at home,” said Hannah Verdin, a Glendale Public Library team librarian.

Patrons also have the option to use on-site Wi-Fi at a limited capacity following health guidelines. Other services and events available prior to the pandemic are available virtually.

“All our programs that we normally offer in person, such as storytime, book club and even musical performances, have been moved online,” Verdin said.

These virtual events are available on the Glendale, Arizona, YouTube account.

Menges said the hotspot program’s goal is to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic. 

“We hope these hotspots will be used to promote individual autonomy through access to information,” Menges said.