Thunder Bay Public Library Boosts Digital Divide Program

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Thunder Bay Public Library
Thunder Bay Public Library

Thunder Bay – The Thunder Bay Public Library’s (TBPL) Bridging the Digital Divide program has added 50 chromebooks with 50 rocket hubs to the inventory and these items are now available for loan.

The goal of the program is to bridge the digital divide separating those who can and can’t afford technology by loaning either tablets or chromebooks with rocket hubs (wifi access) to those who need these items the most.  The devices can be used to connect people to online health care services, family & friends, job searching, accessing online books and other media, taking part in at-home schooling, counselling, viewing local and international news and more.

TBPL is working with over 30 community partner organizations to loan the technology to people identified with the greatest need by our partners. While this program was prompted by the immediate impacts of COVID-19, the Library understands that technology loan programs like this will be needed well beyond the end of the pandemic. The program will also help to deliver on the Library’s strategic objective of mitigating the impact of poverty and homelessness, as identified in the Library’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan.

TBPL has a long history of loaning items to people, so this makes us ideally positioned to work with a wide variety of social service agencies and partner organizations to help ensure that their clients have access to the technology that they need. The Library will be offering instruction guides and technology coaching over the phone until this training can be offered in person.

For those who relied on places like TBPL for social support (a social determinant of health) and digital access, the forced isolation of COVID-19 has had an even greater impact on their health. This project will provide a virtual lifeline, potentially improving patrons’ emotional, mental and physical health.  We are grateful for the support of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, the Thunder Bay Community Foundation and the United Way of Thunder Bay for assistance in funding this program.

For more information, please connect with a Community Partner agency or with the Library at 345-8275. The confirmed list of partners are available on the website at www.tbpl.ca/digitaldivide

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