In a move to close the digital divide for both students and adults, the Miami-Dade (Fla.) Public Library System (MDPLS) launched a new Tablet Lending Program.

According to Census data, more than 23 percent of Miami-Dade County households do not have a broadband internet subscription, and more than 10 percent do not have a computer. The MDPLS said the new program is “an important step forward to bridge the digital divide in Miami-Dade County and expand access to technology and the internet across our community.”

Under the new program, library cardholders can now check out a tablet with free built-in wireless internet access and Wi-Fi capability. The MDPLS said it anticipates the tablets being used for distance learning, telework, as well as personal browsing.

“We know that families who don’t have access to the internet and computers or mobile devices are at a disadvantage at work, school, and accessing basic services, especially during COVID-19,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “The Tablet Lending Program at our Miami-Dade public libraries is an investment in technology that gives residents a better opportunity to tap important resources that will help them thrive and bring us closer to bridging the digital divide in our community.”

Cardholders can borrow tablets for up to 30 days and the devices come with a keyboard case, power adapter, and micro USB cables. The tablets also come preloaded with library apps for online learning, as well as popular apps for social media, audiobooks, movies, and music.

“We’ve always known how important it is for everyone in our community to be able to connect digitally, especially during this past year when we’ve all had to find ways to come together through technology,” said Miami-Dade Public Library System Director Ray Baker. “Now, in addition to using public computers and accessing the internet and Wi-Fi at their local public library, the Tablet Lending Program gives residents the ability to connect to the internet from home, or just about anywhere, at any time.  All they need is a library card.”

The new program was funded under the provisions of the Division of Library and Information Services Florida CARES Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs