Are you on the list? Seattle Public Library has 200 more borrowable wi-fi hotspots

When we and others published the first announcement of wi-fi hotspots available to borrow from the Seattle Public Library, a long waiting list developed quickly – WSB reader Diane was on it and chronicled the wait. Now, with another grant, SPL has more than doubled the number available, as announced today:

Thanks to an additional $80,000 grant from Google, The Seattle Public Library has added 200 more Wi-Fi hotspots for Library patrons to check out. The devices provide patrons with free, mobile broadband Internet service for three weeks.

The Library used an initial grant from Google to buy 150 hotspots and launched the lending program on May 18. In the first week, nearly 1,000 patrons placed holds on the devices.

“Clearly, even in a high-tech city like Seattle, there is a huge need for additional broadband access,” said Marcellus Turner, Seattle’s city librarian. “These devices help close the digital divide for Seattle residents who live on low incomes.”

Some Library patrons had requested more devices after the initial launch. The Library now lends a total of 326 devices and librarians use another 24 hotspots during outreach programming.

Many patrons believe the Wi-Fi hotspots provide an exciting new spin on the public library system’s foundational service – ensuring equal access to information for all.

“This is the coolest thing ever,” one user commented. “Kudos to The Seattle Public
Library for carrying a traditional mission of libraries into the Internet age.”

The Seattle Public Library is the first public library in the United States to make
the hotspots available to all its cardholders. For more information, call the Library 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian.

20 Replies to "Are you on the list? Seattle Public Library has 200 more borrowable wi-fi hotspots"

  • Diane July 28, 2015 (9:27 pm)

    it took a month for me to move up the list from #267 on day it was first announced; when I turned mine in a couple weeks ago, SPL had 326 in the system, but wait list was nearly 1,400; I placed another hold; wonder if my wait will be more like 4 months this time

  • Diane July 28, 2015 (9:36 pm)

    I documented almost daily my spot on list and # of holds; have to go check my records, but my memory is that it took a few weeks to reach 1000, not in the 1st week; nonetheless, clearly this is very much needed and would love to see more of our local multibillion dollar companies chip in/match google’s awesome donation

  • Diane July 28, 2015 (10:02 pm)

    Just checked my status at SPL; I placed a hold this time on June 26, so a month later, and with 200 added hotspots, I’m up to #945 on wait list; maybe I’ll get it in 2 months?

  • Diane July 28, 2015 (10:11 pm)

    I can’t find any info on those “midsummer, hotspot enabled laptops”; aren’t we midsummer now?

    • WSB July 28, 2015 (10:15 pm)

      Good question. If you go by, for example, the Seattle Public Schools calendar, as I pointed out in a story earlier today, we are EXACTLY at midsummer … six weeks since SPS summer break started, six weeks until it ends.

  • hj July 29, 2015 (12:41 am)

    In response to an earlier comment: this Wednesday one of those local multibillion dollar companies is “chipping in” by sending thousands of employees out to engage in a variety of volunteer work including helping kids at Mary’s Place, assisting with the substance abuse clinic Recovery Café, restoring some of the natural area around Kubota, and painting low-income housing in Renton. But I guess that’s nothing compared to creating a waiting list for free Wi-Fi…

  • Diane July 29, 2015 (3:22 am)

    people who cannot afford wifi/high speed internet need the free wifi to apply for jobs to pay for a place to live, for their families and kids

  • Diane July 29, 2015 (3:24 am)

    my memory was incorrect about the count in 1st week; by day 5 after the launch, there were 977 on wait list

  • gina July 29, 2015 (7:42 am)

    I have been enjoying using the printers at SPL. Considering what I was spending on cartridges, and how long it took my defunct home printer to crank out a page, I’m saving time and money.

    Admiral Safeway has 24/7 WiFi available, with school out the bandwidth is pretty good.

  • AIDM July 29, 2015 (8:46 am)

    With the wait list so long, it kind of ruins the point of these. It’s not like a highschool student who knows she has a big project coming up can check one of these out and use it during the 2 week project period since the waitlist is too long.

    I DO sometimes see students sitting up against the door of Highpoint Library working on a project after library hours e.g. using their wifi. At least they have access to a laptop, but it shows there is a significant community need in West Seattle.

    This illustrates the need for communities like ours to stand up against the Comcast lobbying effort and try to initiate open, free, community wifi. This is especially true in communities where students need access to the internet for school projects.

  • G July 29, 2015 (8:54 am)

    Seattle libraries have free, fast internet access, nice monitors, new versions of MS Word, with high quality printers. Think you have it bad? In LA, the public computers are very slow, there are no installed programs like MS Word. Seattleites are spoiled.

  • G July 29, 2015 (8:58 am)

    Oh, down here if you put a book on hold, and don’t show up to claim it, you’re fined. Which makes sense, because the library has gone through the effort – often shipping the item to you from another branch – and there should be some reciprocal sense of obligation on the part of the borrower. Not so in Seattle.

  • miws July 29, 2015 (10:00 am)

    Wow. So there is actually one way where Seattle/West Seattle is better than LA?!?


    Stunning. Absolutely Stunning….



  • EmmyJane July 29, 2015 (12:32 pm)

    I apologize if I’m misinterpreting the discussion here, but my comment is based on how it’s sounding to me. It makes me sad that the focus of a generous community gift could be met with such complaining. It comes across as a sense of entitlement. There are certainly other options to use free wifi if needed for job searching, etc.

    • WSB July 29, 2015 (12:43 pm)

      Diane’s comments, in context with the reason I mentioned her in the text, are more a demonstration of how popular these were, almost immediately, so I wouldn’t construe *that* as a complaint.

  • Neighbor July 29, 2015 (1:30 pm)

    We’ve used the hotspots from spl. We are a family of four who can’t afford internet at home. The hotspots are so awesome and a life changer. Thumbs up to this awesome program!

  • EmmyJane July 29, 2015 (1:37 pm)

    Thanks WSB. I misunderstood.

  • Diane July 29, 2015 (7:28 pm)

    thanks neighbor; agree, this can be life changing for the 90,000+ Seattle residents who cannot afford high speed (or any) internet, to search for jobs and housing and so much more that others often take for granted

  • Diane July 29, 2015 (7:32 pm)

    gina, I go to KCLS when I need big batches of printing, like for a project; printing at KCLS is free, 75 units per week; color counts as 3 units; and KCLS allows much more time for using computers

  • Diane July 29, 2015 (7:41 pm)

    I just checked with Admiral librarian; the wait list is now just over 1200; she guesses with my wait # at 945 and now 326 units, and about 1 month for each unit to circulate through the 7 day hold and 3weeks checked out and 3 days to get unit to correct branch for check out, that my next turn may be in 2 months; fingers crossed; she also said there really haven’t been any big problems and so far seems to be huge success, so hopefully they will add more

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