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To the Bookmobile! Library Delivers Wi-Fi to Those in Need

Kansas' Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is offering Internet access by repurposing bookmobiles as Wi-Fi hotspots. The vehicles are placed in public areas that lack access to the Internet.

(TNS) — The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is helping to fill a gap in Internet access by repurposing two of its bookmobiles as Wi-Fi hotspots.

Both buses are set up in southeast Topeka, with one located in the Topeka Correctional Facility parking lot, 815 S.E. Rice Road, and the other at Coachlight Village East Mobile Home Park, 3637 S.E. 6th Ave.

The buses will alternate days, with the correctional facility location being operational from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the one at the mobile home park available from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The buses are placed in areas that lack Internet access as a way to support Shawnee Heights school district students.

Those utilizing the Internet access are asked to park near the bus and connect to the Wi-Fi service "TSCPL-Public."

"One issue that has become apparent in light of our current circumstances is the lack of fast and affordable community broadband," library CEO Gina Milsap said Monday in a news release. "These days having Internet access is as important as electricity and other utilities and with so many students and parents working from home, the library is making this need a priority."

Milsap said she communicated last week with school officials to determine what needs schools might have as students, teachers and families transition to at-home classes and working from home.

The two Wi-Fi locations were suggested by USD 450 superintendent Martin Stessman, according to the news release.

Stessman identified the Eastgate neighborhood and mobile home park as areas that lack broadband access for students.

The library plans to consider additional Wi-Fi sites if the initiative proves successful.

Free Wi-Fi is also being provided in the library's west parking lot every day from 7 a.m. to 9:15 p.m.

Shawnee County Parks and Recreation also has free Wi-Fi set up at various locations:

  • Central Park Community Center, 1534 S.W. Clay St.
  • Oakland Community Center, 801 N.E. Poplar St.
  • Garfield Community Center, 1600 N.E. Quincy St.
  • Crestview Community Center, 4801 S.W. Shunga Drive
  • Rice Community Center, 432 S.E. Norwood St.
©2020 The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kan. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.