Since MSU moved to emergency remote learning for the spring 2020 semester, it became abundantly clear there is a very real digital divide among students (and families) who have access to a home computer and/or reliable, high-speed Internet and those that do not. With many classes again being offered through online modalities for the Fall 2020, and social distancing guidelines limiting computer lab space, this divide will continue to inhibit students' abilities to easily complete their course work.
The MSU Library has acquired Wi-Fi hotspots through a NNLM Technology Innovation grant and the Montana State Library. These will be loaned to high-need students on medium- to long-term check-outs to enable them access their course content either on-campus or online.
The WiFi Hotspot Lending Program is made possible in part by a grant from The National Network of Libraries of Medicine Pacific Northwest Region (NNLM PNR) Technology Improvement Award.
These awards aim to support infrastructure that improves access to biomedical and health information.
Specifically, the Technology Improvement Award seeks to address Aims 1-5 in the Support Access to Biomedical and Health Information Core, to ensure that the variety of users, such as affiliated and unaffiliated health professionals, researchers, librarians and the public, will have equal access to biomedical and health information.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated the digital divide in Montana, which is why the State Library is investing in a hot spot lending program to help Montana libraries help their patrons in need. Every public and tribal college library in Montana is eligible to receive hot spots that they can use as they choose to help their communities.
The Montana State Library has given the MSU Library six hot spots as part of their extended funding for their hot spot lending program. These hot spots will be incorporated into the NNLM Technology Innovation Award project.
The Montana State Library hot spot lending program was funded by the following organizations: