“Residents were used to being out and about; they came into the library for programs and read-alouds, they had off-campus jobs, they went to the movies and the pool. […] Unfortunately, once the pandemic came around, they became one of the most isolated groups in our community,” says Jolene Poore, director of Ada Public Library in Ada, Oklahoma.
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"Wi-Fi hotspots have been a Godsend for our community,” says Brenda Cervantes, grants and special projects administrator at Yuma County Public Library in Arizona. “With no coffee shops or large shopping centers, there are essentially no spaces in the community that provide free Wi-Fi or internet service outside of the libraries.”
Libraries provide educational programming, a welcoming space, and access to computers and internet connection. This last point has become increasingly important during the pandemic, especially for libraries serving rural areas. In order to safely continue serving their communities, they have faced both the obstacles of switching to virtual programming and ensuring people can access it, on what is often a tiny budget.