National Library Lovers Month: Salinas Public Library

We're celebrating National Library Lovers Month by celebrating positive stories from our library partners.

Katharine Dixon, of Salinas Public Library in Salinas, California, shared their story:

It all started in June 2020 when the Salinas Public Library saw that because of the pandemic, there was going to be a need for hotspots to help school kids with remote learning. They applied for funding with the IMLS Cares grant. They were disappointed to find out they did not get that grant. Then, a photo and news story about two little girls right here in our hometown of Salinas, California was published in August.

A Taco Bell parking lot had become an impromptu classroom. The small children were photographed sitting in the parking lot, using their laptops, connecting to the Taco Bell’s free Internet. It went viral.

Knowing the need was growing every day, Library and Community Services Director Kristan Lundquist urged Community Education Manager Ernesto Lizoala and Marketing Coordinator Mary Ellison to seek local funding from the Community Foundation of Monterey County. It worked this time, joyfully, the library would receive a $50K grant.

"We realize the community need for equity in digital access is so great, and as the library, we want to participate in supporting our students and bridging the divide," says Director Lundquist, “These funds will go toward providing hotspots and computers to students in four schools in the Salinas City Elementary School District: El Gabilan, Los Padres, Roosevelt and Sherwood. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fund continues to show their generosity and support for our library system, and we are extremely grateful."

Area schools have begun lending laptops or Chrome books to students during the school year, but they are of little value without an Internet connection.

Understanding the need to expedite, Library Staff collaborated on packaging the hotspots in attractive, sturdy containers also holding a charger and USB cord as well as instructions in both Spanish and English.

While most of us take the Internet for granted, many area school-aged children and youth live in less than optimum conditions in Salinas. Some families double up to share high rental costs and too many children share the national disgrace of homelessness in a country so rich in resources.

Because of the pandemic, schools are relying heavily on the use of virtual classrooms and online instruction, impossible for those without an Internet connection. The parents should not have to choose between rent or a way for their children to continue their education. We can’t imagine sending a small child out to sit on a curb in a public parking lot just to get a wireless signal.

Now, with the new Mobile Beacon hotspots available for checkout, there is one less worry to keep their parents awake at night. Our hope is that some future leader can cite the lending of the free hotspot from Salinas Public Library in the nurturing of their love of learning and instilling them with the desire to give back to the community that gave them a helping hand.

More Good News from Salinas Public Library

Meeting the Digital Divide

Meeting the Technology Gap

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Read more by Kalleen Marquise

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