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Liberty Lake Library offers laptops, hot spots for checkout

UPDATED: Thu., May 12, 2022

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Libraries don’t just check out books, movies and music anymore. It’s becoming more common to have what’s known as a Library of Things, which means that people can check out everything from gardening tools to cake pans.

The Liberty Lake Library is taking steps toward offering its own Library of Things, starting with several laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots.

The need for the laptops and hot spots became abundantly clear during the pandemic, when libraries had to shut their doors, Liberty Lake Library Director Jandy Humble said.

“Some of those people depended on going to the library and using the internet every day,” Humble said.

Many libraries did what they could to keep their Wi-Fi up and running and even extend its reach, Humble said, but that didn’t help the people without computers. The library’s board of trustees went before the Liberty Lake City Council to request funding for laptops and hot spots, which the city decided to pay for with its American Rescue Plan funding. That was last year.

“There were supply chain issues,” Humble said. “It’s something we’ve been working on.”

The five laptops and 10 hot spots recently arrived and have been available for checkout since mid-April. Five of the hot spots can be checked out on their own and the other five are bundled with the ASUS laptops.

“We figured people who need a computer would also need access to the internet,” Humble said.

The laptops are basic models and don’t have a lot of software preloaded. Each comes with a wireless mouse in case someone wants to use it with the laptop.

“They’re pretty standard,” Humble said of the laptops.

The items can be checked out by Liberty Lake Library cardholder older than 18. The cards are not limited to residents of Liberty Lake, but people must come to the library in person to check out the laptops and hot spots.

“Everyone who wants to get a card can get a card,” she said.

While interest in the laptops has been slow to start, demand for the hot spots has been off the charts, Humble said. All have been checked out and there is a waiting list. The laptop bundles and the hot spots can be checked out for a week at a time. Since there is a waiting list, the items can’t be renewed, Humble said.

The Liberty Lake Library is part of the Cooperative Information Network, a consortium of 30 libraries, almost all of which are located in North Idaho. Among those libraries, there are 86 hotspots available for checkout and 65 people on a waiting list to receive them, Humble said.

If a Liberty Lake resident is on the waiting list, they will get priority for the hot spots that the Liberty Lake Library has before they are offered to a nonresident on the waiting list through inter-library loan, Humble said. Residents can visit the library’s website at www.libertylakewa.gov/435/library to put in a hold request on a hot spot.

The library may purchase more hot spots if demand continues to be high, Humble said.

The laptops and hot spots aren’t the only new thing the library offers. The library recently started providing passes to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and the Mobius Discovery Center for checkout. The passes, funded by the Friends of the Library group, provide admission for up to two adults and three children and can be checked out for one week on a first-come, first-served basis.

Humble wants to work on putting together a Library of Things for the library’s patrons. Humble said she’s seen libraries offer things like air fryers, American Girl dolls, toys, Lego sets, telescopes and kitchen pans for checkout.

But Humble isn’t quite ready to give specifics on what items might be available for checkout in Liberty Lake as time goes on.

“We’re looking into adding more things in the future,” she said.

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