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Cobb County Public Library Launches Chromebook Lending Service

picture of google chromebook
April 4, 2022

Cobb County Public Library Launches Chromebook Lending Service
Chromebooks with built-in cellular Wi-Fi service have been added to the Cobb County Public Library (CCPL) collection of digital devices for Cobb library cardholders. The library has 150 all-in-one Chromebook laptop kits for residents aged 17 and up with limited or no broadband service to checkout for up to three weeks.

For individuals and families without devices or reliable broadband network service, the Chromebook kits will provide internet access for meeting their education, job search, workforce development, healthcare, and other critical needs, CCPL officials said.

“Our Chromebook rollout is an opportunity to amplify the role Cobb libraries play as a community partner in bridging the broadband access gap many of our neighbors are experiencing in the county,” said Shelley Zhang, CCPL Division Director of Technical Operations.

The Chromebook devices are designed primarily for web browsing or to use with the Google Workspace suite of applications like Google Docs and Google Sheets. Each Chromebook has Wi-Fi service from T-Mobile and allows for connecting to a different network.

Funding for the Chromebook kits with T-Mobile service is from the Federal Communication Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program providing $7 billion in grants to public libraries and schools authorized by Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

CCPL has made available digital devices to the public for promoting connectivity for several years. Cobb libraries circulate portable T-Mobile hotspot devices as part of CCPL’s Connecting Cobb initiative which allows for information services to expand beyond library locations into homes. There is consistently a waiting list for the hotspot devices, officials said.

CCPL has extended the checkout period for AWE Learning tables from seven days to three weeks to support parents and caregivers of preschoolers and early elementary students using the early literacy devices for access to educational games and activities, including writing, math, and art. Children first experienced desktop versions of AWE products in most CCPL locations.

There remains an important role for Cobb libraries to unite with schools, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and others engaged in addressing the digital connectivity gaps across the community, CCPL officials say. Based on a review of Census reports and other data sources, Cobb library officials say they believe about four percent of Cobb households lack broadband access or a conservative estimate of 25,000 people.

“We are committed to our Connecting Cobb initiative with support from federal, state, and local government partners and through community, partnerships striving to ensure everyone is connected,” said Cobb Library Director Helen Poyer. “I am proud of our Connecting Cobb team and we all know much work remains to be done.”

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