Mobile Citizen Spotlight: Leveraging Library Lending Programs to Bridge the Digital Divide

Image Description: Mobile Citizen Logo that includes the world Mobile Citizen in red and gray and three arches above the word that resemble a wi-fi icon.

Voqal’s mission is to advance social equity by creating an educated and engaged public. A key element of realizing this goal is making sure everyone has access to the affordable, high-speed internet that is increasingly important to participate in our society. That’s why Voqal project, Mobile Citizen exists. It provides low-cost mobile internet with unlimited data plans exclusively to nonprofit organizations, educational entities, and social welfare agencies in order to advance social equity. One of the ways it achieves this mission is by providing hotspots and affordable internet to library lending programs — library lending programs like the one implemented by the Muskingum County Library System in Ohio. An excerpt from a case study featuring this program is below.

Since 2017, the Muskingum County Library System has put over 100 reduced-cost Wi-Fi hotspots from Mobile Citizen into circulation, giving rural and low-income families easy access to free and reliable internet from home. Located an hour east of Columbus, Ohio, along the Appalachian Region’s edge, Muskingum County is home to 86,000 people

Bridging the Gap
“The digital divide is very real here,” explained Muskingum Library’s IT Director, Joe Dusenbery. Due to its location in the northern region of the Appalachians, the county has many areas where reliable internet simply isn’t available. When it is available, it’s not always affordable.

Stretching Every Dollar
“Mobile Citizen is really amazing in how affordable it is,” Dusenbery said. “The low monthly service cost lets us maximize our grant dollars so we can serve more students and families.” With each grant over the past several years, including a Cares Act grant in 2020, they’ve added more Mobile Citizen hotspot devices.

Checking Out Free Internet at Home
Muskingum County Library System lends each hotspot device for two weeks at a time. Patrons can check them out from the main library or place a hold on them for delivery to one of the five branch locations. If no one is waiting for the device at the end of the check-out period, it can be renewed for another two weeks.

The library is doing everything it can to make the internet accessible. They’ve even pushed the building’s Wi-Fi out to the edges of the parking lot, so members of the community can drive in or sit on one of the park benches to use the library’s internet even when the library is closed.

Read the full case study on the Mobile Citizen website and learn how your organization can take advantage of Mobile Citizen’s affordable mobile internet access today.