YORK COUNTY, Pa. — York County Libraries announced Monday it has expanded its Hotspots To Go service from two to 12 library locations.
A total of 80 mobile hotspots are now available countywide, York County Libraries said.
Library members, ages 18 and up, can rent a hotspot for a fee of $20 for a four-week loan period as part of the program. Residents who do not have a library card can request one at no cost online at yorklibraries.org or at their local library.
The mobile hotspots connect library members to unlimited, high-speed internet service anywhere a T-Mobile signal can be received. The hotspots can support smart phones, tablets, desktop computers, and laptops, and up to 20 devices can be connected to a hotspot with unlimited data usage.
The hotspots are available on a first-come/first served basis, York County Libraries said.
“Mobile hotspots offer a solution for individuals who do not have internet access at home,” York County Libraries President Robert F. Lambert said in a press release. “The recent shift to remote work and virtual school days has quickly expanded the need for this service.
"Hotspots provide a way for community members to get online for job searches, schoolwork, and resources in the comfort of their homes.”
York County Libraries partnered with T-Mobile for a three-month hotspot pilot project that launched in December 2019 at Martin Library in York City and Collinsville Community Library in Brogue.
“We wanted to test if hotspots could meet the needs of residents in two very different communities, city and rural,” said Martin Library Director Mina Edmondson. “Both areas have their own challenges with connectivity, and what we learned clearly is that there is a community need and demand for this service.”
During the pilot project, the libraries offered 15 hotspots that were checked out a total of 40 times.
Members most frequently stated they used the service when they travelled and for school, especially adult higher education. Some also used the hotspots for social media and family connections, York County Libraries said.
According to Collinsville Community Library Branch Manager Ellen Helfrick, many residents cannot get internet service at their homes in rural Brogue.
One family that tried a mobile hotspot, shared that It worked great to watch stations, shows and movies that they can’t normally get.
In York City, the hotspots filled the gap for members who needed internet access to complete projects and meet deadlines.
“Our members really like the flexibility this service provides,” said Edmondson. “They enjoy the ability to connect to the internet on their schedules and the ability to use various devices like their phones, tablets, and PC.”