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Rochester Library to Loan Chromebooks Long-Term for Education

Initially launched with nonprofits, government agencies and schools who helped identify people who needed it, the program is being offered more widely to citizens in need of Internet or devices.

<a href=""target="_blank">flickr/Luis Roca</a>
(TNS) — Rochester Public Library is offering long-term borrowing of Internet-enabled Chromebooks, aimed at supporting educational needs for community members without adequate broadband access.

A $619,000 grant received in September allowed the library to purchase 1,000 Chromebooks with data connection as part of the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program from the Federal Communications Commission.

Federal officials say the program helps close the digital divide.

"These devices provide crucial Internet service to families and individuals who need to connect with online educational resources," Library Director Audrey Betcher said.

Library staff partnered with local organizations for the first round of Chromebook distribution to identify those needing critical online access.

"We launched this program first with nonprofits, government agencies, and schools who helped identify individuals who need access, and now we're ready to offer them more widely," Betcher said.

Starting Wednesday, Olmsted County residents have the opportunity to borrow Chromebooks for long-term checkout that lasts until June 30. To be eligible for the program, individuals must meet the following requirements:

— Lack sufficient access to the Internet

— Need a connected device primarily to support educational needs

— Do not currently receive Internet service through another state or federal program

— Participants must bring a photo ID and proof of address if they do not already have a library card.

Anyone unsure of whether they meet the requirements can contact the library.

"We want to help people get the resources they need," Betcher said. "Even if community members do not qualify under this program, we can often find other resources to support people."

More information about the Connected Chromebook Program is available at the library during regular hours, or by contacting library staff by via phone (507-329-2309) or email (

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