24 Sep Google Chromebooks are Taking Over Public Libraries
Public libraries across America are investing in Google Chromebooks, giving families with limited access to Internet or computing technology new outlets for studying and working.
Technology skills that were once impressive on a resume are becoming canonized basics that everyone is expected to know before even reaching adulthood, adding to the disadvantages of children and adults who don’t own computers or have Web access.
While it’s easy to view traditional libraries as crypts where moldy, dusty books go to finish out their days, libraries have always been meccas for sharing resources, engaging in interactive programs and receiving technology instruction. So, it’s no surprise that libraries are championing the cause of putting technology into as many hands as possible.
Critics often condemn Google Chromebooks for having no value outside of the school sector, but these cloud-based devices are finding a new home in public libraries. Chromebooks are small, fast and low-cost, making them easy for libraries to store and purchase with grant funding. Unlike a tablet that may require a separate keyboard, everything a user needs for productivity is already included in a Chromebook.
The state of Tennessee awarded a $15,000 technology grant to Bristol Public Libraries for Chromebooks and other resources. A $30,000 donation sponsored by nonprofit One San Diego and Cox Communication helped the San Diego Public Library purchase 60 Chromebooks each for the Valencia Park/Malcolm X and San Ysidro branches. As part of the citywide Do Your Homework @ The Library program, San Diego also provides volunteers to help local students succeed academically.
Aurora Public Libraries in Illinois, Ferguson Public Municipal Libraries in Missouri, Grundy Library in Pennsylvania and Multnomah County Libraries in Oregon are just a small sample of this growing drive to bridge technology gaps. Madison Public Library in New Jersey went a step further and organized a Teen Chromebook Club that encourages students to collaboratively explore creative uses for Chromebook apps and improve their media creation skills.
Depending on the library, patrons typically have to be between ages 11 and 14 to check out a Chromebook alone, and most facilities grant access for at least two hours at a time. Many of these libraries don’t limit Chromebook circulation to K-12 and college students, since it’s equally important for all adults to have computer access to apply for jobs, study for certifications and research benefits.
Chromebooks aren’t going to disappear anytime soon, and rightly so. Academic and professional success should not be defined by economic advantage or screen time, and the affordability of Chromebooks is inspiring communities to tear down unnecessary barriers.
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