CARES Act grant used to install Wi-Fi Access Point antennas at local libraries

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Kenmore Library
Photo by Jerry Pickard

The King County Library System (KCLS) received a federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant from the Washington State Library (WSL) to expand digital inclusion in King County.

KCLS used the funding to help install external Wi-Fi Access Points (AP) at 44 library locations including Richmond Beach, Shoreline, and Kenmore.

The WSL received the funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support libraries in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Congress provided the federal agency a total of $50 million in the CARES Act to distribute to states and territories.

Since closing libraries to in-building use in March, following orders by Governor Jay Inslee to help slow the spread of COVID-19, KCLS staff expanded access to digital collections and resources, and transitioned programming and services to online platforms.

The mandated closures have impacted those who rely on KCLS’ in-building services, and who may have limited internet access needed for distance learning, remote work and other essential services.

KCLS has maintained access to its standard public Wi-Fi signal throughout the pandemic. In some cases, the signal extends outside library buildings and into parking lots, but user experience varies from site to site. The new APs boost Wi-Fi signals and give residents more reliable internet access outside library buildings.

“KCLS continues to find innovative ways to adapt in-building services during this time,” stated KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “We are pleased to offer external Wi-Fi at many more locations throughout the region, and we hope the new service helps connect residents to the digital resources they need.”

Residents do not need a library card or Wi-Fi password to access the free “kcls.org wireless” network. For assistance connecting to Wi-Fi, contact Ask KCLS at kcls.org/ask or call 425-462-9600 or 800-462-9600.

The Wi-Fi hotspots are one of many contactless Curbside to Go services available to King County residents during building closures, including curbside pickup and printing, outdoor lockers and more. Find services near you at kcls.org/contactless



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