Berkeley County Program is 1st-of-its-kind for South Carolina

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This new service began with a grant over $11k from Google to the Friends of the Berkeley County Library. The grant helps support ongoing efforts to put Google’s technical know-how and resources to work for the communities where they live and work.

Google’s grant provided the funds for 20 Mifi jetpacks and service for the first year. The Berkeley County Library provided twenty Chromebooks, each with a case and mouse, for the program.

There are a few library systems nationwide that have a similar program allowing library customers to check out or even rent wifi jetpacks: Brooklyn New York, Chicago, Seattle to name a few. The Berkeley County Library System’s MiFi30 program is the first to offer both the wifi service and a device with no restrictions to anyone who has a library card thus embodying their “Open Up!” philosophy.

Director Donna Worden explains how exciting the MiFi30 program is to the Berkeley County Library System and Berkeley County Government residents. A first of it’s kind in the USA!

Posted by Berkeley County Library System – BCLS on Thursday, July 30, 2015

“We are proud to be the first library system in South Carolina to have the Mifi30 service.” Said Donna Worden, the Berkeley County Library Director. “We will track the service’s usage and send out surveys to get feedback for improvement. The library looks forward to the spread of digital literacy and new opportunities the Mifi30 service will provide. Access to the world’s information promotes reading and a love of learning.”

BCLS decided to launch this new service from the bookmobile first but the Mifi30s will be available for checkout at all BCLS branches.

“We are delighted to be a part of this innovative lending service for Berkeley County,” says Barbara Ash, the Outreach/Children’s librarian. “Being able to bring internet access and connectivity to our communities via the mobile library sets a new standard of service that we hope our customers will take advantage of. This is an extraordinary opportunity for everyone in our community to get connected.”

On July 24, 2015, the new MiFi30 was launched from the full-service bookmobile at one of its stops in the town of St. Stephen. Seventeen customers were able to check out the new MiFi30s. In attendance for this monumental event were: Rob Sanchez, Eric Wages, and Lilyn Hester from Google SC, Councilman Caldwell Pinckney, County Supervisor William Peagler, St. Stephen Mayor John Rivers, as well as representatives from the Berkeley Library System Board of Trustees, the State Library, and the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce to share in the celebration.

Berkeley County Library System’s MiFi30 Program Launch in St. Stephen, SC Rob Sanchez, an operations manager for Google SC, explains the need for the MiFi30 program for the residents of Berkeley County Government and many other “smartphone-dependent” citizens in the US.

Posted by Berkeley County Library System – BCLS on Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rob Sanchez, an operations manager at Google SC states, “Eighty-four percent of American’s use the internet, but according to a study released this summer from the Pew Research Center — too many Americans are increasingly “smartphone-dependent” for internet access.

That’s part of the reason we wanted to help the Berkeley County Library. Smart-phones are great, I use mine all day every day. But, online experiences are different when viewed on a small phone screen versus the larger screen on a Chromebook. We believe using laptops like this can enhance the user experience and inspire people to learn more and search more. At Google, our mission to make all the world’s information accessible to all. And, we are proud to work with the Berkeley County Library System as we stride toward that goal.”

After seeing the tremendous response to the launch of this new program, Google SC has generously offered to pay for the 2nd year of service on the wifi jetpacks.

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