Visitors to Fort Collins’ Old Town Library can now check out Chromebooks as part of a city and library initiative to enhance digital equity.
The city of Fort Collins gave CARES Act and Coronavirus Relief Fund money to the Poudre River Library District for the new Chromebooks, which are available for seven-day checkouts to library cardholders.
The Old Town Library has six of the laptops, and the city funded 20 in total, said Katie Auman, library district spokesperson. The library district is assessing community interest in the new offering before rolling it out to Council Tree and Harmony libraries. There will ultimately be about 16 Chromebooks available for borrowing, leaving a few extras in case any are damaged.
The goal of the Chromebook program is to make sure the public has access to technology needed to engage with local government. People who borrow the laptops are encouraged to use them to access Fort Collins City Council meetings, participate in virtual library programs and apply for jobs, unemployment and other essentials that require computer access.
“Digital equity is an ongoing challenge for many families and individuals, and the challenge was further highlighted during the COVID-19 closures,” said David Slivken, executive director of the library district. “The library actively works to help bridge the digital divide and increase equal access to information and services in our community.”
The Chromebooks are available for checkout at the library, including during curbside pickup. The devices include Google Chrome, the Zoom meeting and webinar extension and other tools and basic software. Staff will clear the computers of any user data and software not installed by the library between checkouts.
The computers are part of the library’s “gadgets and things” collection, which also includes Jetpack MiFi hotspots. The Old Town Library is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, with the exception of dedicated hours for high-risk visitors on from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m.
Curbside pickup is 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Saturdays. Face coverings are required inside the library. Find more information at poudrelibraries.org.
Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.