RUPERT — A federal COVID-19 relief grant received by Rupert’s DeMary Memorial Library was used to upgrade the library’s Wi-Fi so it can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We appreciate the work done by the Governor’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee to identify key broadband infrastructure needs and the inclusion of grant funding for Idaho’s public libraries as they strive to better meet those broadband needs for Idahoans,” said Idaho State Librarian Stephanie Bailey-White in a press release.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant, administered by the Idaho Department of Commerce and managed by the Idaho Commission for Libraries allowed the improvements.
“The upgraded network and Wi-Fi equipment we received through the grant will make internet access faster and more reliable,” said DeMary Memorial Library Director Shambry Emero. “Previously, staff and patrons could not get a good signal in certain parts of the library or from outside. Now the signal will be available 24/7 and accessible outside of the library building at any time. This increased internet access will be particularly helpful for people who work non-traditional hours, such as those with factory or farming jobs, or for those who are just unable to get to the library when the building is open.”
In small and rural Idaho communities, the library serves as the primary source of free internet access for residents. Idaho is one of the lowest ranking states for broadband availability, with 40 percent of the population lacking access and 20 percent reporting no access at home.
“The library also has hot spots available for check out. They allow our patrons the flexibility of having internet on the go or at home. For example, a hot spot can be a resource for someone to fill out an employment application in the privacy and convenience of their own home,” said Emero.
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