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Seattle Public Library Wants To Loan You Mobile Wi-Fi

Paula Wissel
Jason Mattingly checks out a mobile wi-fi device at the Seattle Central library.

In addition to a book or movie, you can now take Internet access home from the Seattle Public Library.

The library has started checking out 150 mobile Wi-Fi devices. The SPL HotSpot devices will connect to borrowers laptops, tablets or smart phones and provide free Internet access anywhere 4G LTE or 3G service is available. The mobile online access will be limited to 90 minutes daily.The mobile Internet connection, paid for with a $250,000 grant from Google, is provided by Verizon wireless.

Restaurant worker Jason Mattingly, who was the first in line to check out a  mobile Wi-Fi device, says an hour and a half a day isn’t enough time.

”I spent 3 months taking care of my parents and returned to Seattle with no job, no home, 100 dollars in my pocket and no Internet access," Mittingly said, adding that it’s very difficult to look for a place to rent or a job without full time Internet access.

It's estimated, according to the library, that more than 90,000 Seattle residents lack Internet access at home.  

Anyone with a Seattle Public Library card will be able to borrow a mobile Wi-Fi device for 3 weeks at a time and renew it for another 3 weeks if the wait list is empty. As of late Monday, 267 people were on the list to check one out.

The Seattle Public Library is one of the first libraries in the country to try loaning out mobile Wi-Fi devices. In July, the library will also begin checking out laptops to patrons.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.