Snohomish County is investing $1.5 million of its federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation into a digital equity initiative operated by Sno-Isle Libraries.
According to a Monday announcement, this funding will increase the capacity of their loanable computer with hot spots by 750 devices and will expand their digital navigator program, which helps library patrons connect to the internet, troubleshoot tech issues, learn about online safety, and understand the process to sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal discount broadband program for income-qualified households.
According to the Washington State Broadband Office, as many as 15% of households do not have a desktop or laptop computer. Additionally, Washington’s ACP enrollment rate is 26%, well below the national average of 33%. Of the 1,125,000 eligible households in the state, less than 290,000 are enrolled in the ACP.
“At Sno-Isle Libraries, we are committed to connecting more residents to vital internet access. A library card connects our communities to job interviews, Telehealth appointments, online tutoring, and experiences they value. Our libraries bring people together through digital connections and community experiences,” said Lois Langer Thompson, executive director, Sno-Isle Libraries.
Sno-Isle Libraries provides critical access to the internet and technology, along with library staff to assist. Residents can check out laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots with a library card. All 23 Sno-Isle Libraries locations provide free Wi-Fi access for communities to browse and stream the internet.