Commissioner Robert Patrick Partners with DeKalb Library Foundation to Continue Vital Library Program

Dekalb County

High demand for mobile hotspot program for residents without internet access


Commissioner Robert Patrick, along with several of his Board of Commissioner colleagues, has teamed up with the DeKalb Library Foundation (DLF) to assist in continuing a popular and vital DeKalb County Public Library (DCPL) program. 

The Take Back the Internet Initiative is an effort to bridge the digital divide for DeKalb County citizens. This free mobile hotspot lending program began in 2017 with 75 mobile devices at 5 library locations to assist DeKalb residents without internet access. Since the pandemic, the demand for wireless hotspots has increased significantly. Thanks to funding from the DeKalb Library Foundation (DLF), the program was able to expand across all 23 library locations with 300 mobile units now in circulation. Serving approximately 4,000 residents, the hotspots remain one of DCPL’s most requested items—each device is checked out the moment it is returned to circulation. 

To continue the success of the Take Back the Internet Initiative, Commissioner Robert Patrick has allocated $31,800 from his District 1 Discretionary Fund to ensure that residents and students do not fall behind. “The internet is just as important to our daily lives as electricity and phone services,” stated Commissioner Patrick. “During this post-pandemic era, where everything from school to work is conducted online, no one should be without internet access.”

According to the US Census Bureau's COVID-19 Impact Planning Report, 16.9% of DeKalb County citizens do not have home internet. Furthermore, data from the Census 2020 Hard to Count Maps indicates there are many areas in DeKalb County where this figure is as high as 30%.

“We know there are many families in DeKalb County who depend on the Library for their internet needs,” said Library Director Alison Weissinger. “We appreciate this funding which will help us maintain the service on these devices which are so crucial to many of our patrons.”

Funding from DeKalb County would make the hotspots a permanent part of the Library’s books and materials collection. To learn more about the Take Back the Internet Initiative, click here.