County of Marin - News Releases - Wi-Fi Hotspot Devices

For Immediate Release
July 20, 2016

Marin City Kids Wired to Wi-Fi Through Library

Mobile hotspot devices loaned to students who don’t have web access at home

San Rafael, CA – Thanks to generous donations, a selected group of young students are borrowing Wi-Fi hotspots from the Marin City branch of the Marin County Free Library (MCFL) so they can receive free Internet access.

A young boy uses a laptop computer and wi-fi device in the Marin City Library as his mother sits next to him.A boy and his mom use a library-issued laptop and Wi-Fi hotspot device.
The MCFL was a thankful recipient of a grant from the Bank of Marin and an anonymous private donor to start the new Wi-Fi program. The hotspots give the students Internet access anywhere where they can receive cellular reception.

“Many people take Internet access for granted, but there are lots of inhabitants of Marin City for whom that is not the norm,” said MCFL Director Sara Jones. “This will allow students to combat the summer slide and take advantage of educational opportunities we offer at the library.”

The Marin City Library staff members set up the mobile hotspots and tested the devices with the assistance of the WebStars, local kids who work at the library to gain technology skills. In coordination with nearby Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, library staffers started offering the hotspots to a dozen students who lacked Internet access at home. Many of them also do not have computers at home and are using notebook laptops loaned by the library branch.

The hotspot devices are on extended loan to the initial group of students through the summer and the first three months of the school year. The mobile hotspots will be offered on a rotating basis for the life of the one-year grant.

“This is a pilot program and only certain kids qualify to take part in it,” said Etienne Douglas, a library employee who runs the WebStars program. “The principal identified kids who were in a certain academic range, didn’t have Internet at home and had a library card with no fines on it.”

All summer, MCFL offers a summer learning program called “Read for the Win” and promotes Marin City Reads, a community effort to encourage literacy.

Making the Wi-Fi devices available to students is one way the Library can connect the community with knowledge.

“That’s a major part of the MCFL mission,” Jones said. “We’re constantly striving to create connections for the community to explore, imagine and innovate, and that includes enhancing mobile and digital literacy. Those are critical skills for success in the 21st century.”

“Commitment to our communities, and in particular to the children in those communities, is one of our key guiding principles,” said Russell A. Colombo, President and CEO of Bank of Marin. “We are proud to support the work of the Marin County Free Library as it strives to give young people equal access to the online tools they need to learn and succeed.”


Sara Jones
Marin County Free Library

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6051
Email: Sara Jones
Library website