Ryanna Thurman uses a holds locker at the Soldotna Public Library on Friday, Jan. 15 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Ryanna Thurman uses a holds locker at the Soldotna Public Library on Friday, Jan. 15 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Computers, Wi-Fi available for checkout at Soldotna library

The technology was made available through federal grant funds

Patrons of the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Soldotna Public Library can now check out computers and Wi-Fi hot spots alongside books and other library materials courtesy of federal grant funds.

Soldotna City Librarian Rachel Nash confirmed Monday that the technology is now available for checkout on a first-come, first-served basis for three weeks at a time. The hot spots have unlimited data and can be used with mobile devices in addition to computers, Nash said.

The pilot project was funded by federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed in March 2021, through Alaska State Libraries, Archives and Museums, a division under the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Libraries, Archives and Museums received about $2.16 million under the rescue plan through the Institute of Museum and Library Services for “pandemic response and recovery,” according to the division.

Through a rescue plan Project Grant, the Soldotna Public Library received almost $19,000, Nash wrote in a memo to the Soldotna City Council last year. Of those funds, about $11,300 would be used to purchase furniture and equipment including Chromebooks and $7,500 of which will be used to buy services, such as Chromebook management software.

Nash said Monday that the library was able to amend the grant such that $12,220 could be used for equipment —including Chromebooks, hot spots, cases and mice — and $6,550 could be used for Chrome Enterprise management software and mobile data for the hot spots.

“We’re excited to see the response of our community to this pilot project,” Nash said Monday via email.

The Soldotna Public Library also received $6,000 through an Easy American Rescue Plan Act Grant from Libraries, Archives and Museums, $3,500 of which, Nash wrote, would be used to purchase COVID-19 supplies and $2,500 of which would be used to buy books and other materials.

The new technology is the latest that the library has implemented courtesy of relief funds made available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hold lockers were installed last year and allow patrons to pick up library items that they have on hold even if the building is closed.

The library also launched the “Soldotna Self-Checkout” app from MeeScan in 2020, which lets people check out library materials from a mobile device.

Both of those initiatives were made possible with federal COVID-19 relief funds made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was passed in March 2020.

More information about the Soldotna Public Library can be found at soldotna.org/departments/library.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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