Sometimes, the best way to use a gift is to share it. And that’s what your Library has done with an investment from Google Fiber.
In March of 2020 when the world was closing down in the face of COVID-19, the need for accessible Wi-Fi was glaringly apparent. Your Library approached Google Fiber with an idea to equip book delivery vans with mobile Wi-Fi and park them in neighborhoods that lacked connectivity. Google responded with a generous grant.
But Libraries quickly resumed service, and the vans returned to their routes. Library Wi-Fi remained accessible in and around branches.
Yet some populations fell through the cracks.
For members of our community experiencing homelessness, Wi-Fi is just one of many urgent needs. Organizations around the County stepped in with creative solutions. Two of those – Project Outpour and Hope Vibes – bring mobile vehicles outfitted with shower and laundry facilities to homeless residents.
An idea was born.
Your Library reached out to both organizations to inquire about equipping their hygiene vehicles with mobile Wi-Fi, and both were surprised and delighted at the opportunity. Emmanuel Threatt, president of Hope Vibes, recalls “When we got the call, we thought – did they hear our conversation? We’d envisioned adding a space outside the trailer, where people could sit while waiting for their laundry. That time is an opportunity to socialize and interact with other resources – and to be most helpful, we need to provide Wi-Fi. This partnership removes one more barrier for our neighbors as they look for jobs, education and other services.”
Again Google Fiber responded with generosity and a commitment to bridging the digital divide in the most impactful way. They immediately agreed to the reallocation of funds. “Google Fiber is proud to be able to support the efforts of the Mecklenburg County Library to help keep people connected during the pandemic and beyond,” said Jess George, Google Fiber Government and Community Affairs Manager. “We are committed to helping more people access fast, reliable internet. We’re grateful for incredible partners who are working towards this every day, like the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Project Outpour and Hope Vibes.”
Caitlin Moen, Library Director/Chief Customer Officer observes, “We’re so grateful to Google Fiber for their understanding and flexibility as we’ve navigated changing circumstances together to find the most impactful use for this funding. The Library’s role in bridging access to connect people with resources takes many forms, and this partnership is an example of an innovative, meaningful way to leverage resources to make an impact where the need is great. We’re also thrilled to host these vehicles at select Library branches, and grateful to Mecklenburg County for helping to identify the technical solutions needed to make this happen.”