By Gloria Stravelli
METUCHEN – In addition to the myriad resources available to members, the Metuchen Public Library is offering a new service that will provide cardholders with access to the Internet.
“During COVID we realized we needed to bridge the digital divide,” said Hsi Hsi Chung, library director. “We realized a lot of residents might not have proper Internet access and that children were homeschooling, doing everything virtually.”
The device is available to Metuchen Public Library cardholders 18 years or older, geared toward people who don’t have an Internet connection. If someone lives outside the borough, they can apply for a library card.
The connection will give library cardholders access to streaming audio books, TV programs, digital publications and more.
The device can be borrowed for up to two weeks. Chung said it can be rented by the same person again, after waiting a day or two, due to demand.
“We purchased five Wi-Fi hotspots, but we know it’s not enough and we will extend it to five more so we will have 10,” she said.
The Wi-Fi hotspots are through T-Mobile.
“If you borrow the hotspot you have to have a computer or smart phone so you will be able to connect to it. It will give you the code or IP address to connect to so you will have Internet service,” Chung said.
The library pays a monthly fee for the connection, which is available within the T-Mobile domestic service area, not for international service, she said. However, patrons can borrow it if they are traveling.
“We want people to use it,” Chung said. “The only thing is you have to do is keep the device in good condition.”
The device is small, about 3 inches, and is in a case similar to audiobooks because it has an adapter, and there is a menu sheet with the hotspot lending policy.
“Once you turn it on, it can provide high-speed Internet access and it will tell you the access code and the password. It’s very easy, all you have to do is connect it,” Chung said. “There is an access code and once you turn it on, it will tell you the ID code and password.”
Funds for the T-Mobile fee were initially provided by Friends of the Metuchen Library and the library also used its own funds, Chung said.
The library also purchased another access point to the outdoor area at its Middlesex Avenue location.
“People can come to our library outdoor space, where we have some picnic tables, and they can use the Wi-Fi. We have strong enough Wi-Fi so people can do work inside the library or outside just by accessing the Wi-Fi, no password is needed, just MCPL and they will be able to connect for free,” she said.
The Metuchen Public Library has expanded hours to 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
On Tuesday, curbside service is available 5 to 7 p.m. and plans are to expand hours during July.