The capital's public library system has decided to end its loans of Wi-Fi hotspots to families without Internet access, after more kits were lost or damaged than expected.
The Ottawa Public Library began the pilot project, last year, to try to expand internet access to households and families that can't afford to have internet at home. The hotspot kits were loaned out of six locations in areas where one in 10 households does not have access to the Internet at home: the Alta Vista, Rideau, Rosemount, and St-Laurent library branches as well as the Caldwell and Lincoln Heights Bookmobile stops.
Of 72 Wi-Fi kits, 13 were lost or damaged, which was more than the library expected. The library also found that with users self-reporting that they did not have Internet at home, it didn't have a way to confirm whether the program was actually meeting its goal of expanding home internet access to those without.
The Wi-Fi loans program ended on March 31, and all of the remaining Wi-Fi kits were recalled.
The library has no plans to resume lending Wi-Fi service directly to the public but library staff are looking at other ways of using the remaining Wi-Fi kits to expand Internet access, and may loan them to students enrolled in homework clubs.