Local libraries in west Kentucky are among 20 statewide who are offering laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots for patrons to check-out as part of a skill-building initiative.
Muhlenberg county received 10 laptops and hotspots, and McCracken and Marshall county libraries received five. The laptop kits were funded by a Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives workforce grant. The laptops come with easy access to resources for resume building, job searching and learning digital safety, among other skills.
While McCracken County Public Library has 20 other laptops and hotspots available for patrons, Adult Services Technology Assistant Devin Cook said she believes these kits are going to help patrons who are looking to build new skills.
“It’s basically more tailored for people who want to get into life-long learning, and that was the goal of that grant we were given was to give this access to people who don’t normally have it that want to learn something new,” she said.
Cook said the kits are set up for self instruction, but also offer virtual tech help so patrons can connect with library staff if they need assistance. She said this could include someone needing practice for a job interview or basic computer questions. Cook said this access provides patrons a safe way to get assistance from library staff during a time when COVID-19 is restricting in-person services. The kits at McCracken County Public Library can be checked out for up to a month.
Marshall County Public Library started their program on January 19. In a release, the library said its goal is to maintain a space in which residents can access the internet and receive assistance, even if it’s done remotely. The Skill Building Kits have a lending period of two weeks with an automatic two-week renewal if there are no holds for other patrons. Marshall County Public Library has six additional laptops available for patrons across their three branches, but only the Skill Building Kits include hotspots.
Muhlenberg County Public Library patrons can check out the laptop and hotspot kits for three weeks at a time. Library Director Janet Harris said the library has four additional hotspots available for checkout. She said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, these hotspots have been a popular resource among patrons.