New Orleans Public Library to Offer Tablets, Bring Back Storytime

Image courtesy of New Orleans Public Library

The New Orleans Public Library announced earlier this week that library cardholders can now check out tablets from their local library branch.

The Samsung A7 Lite tablets were purchased through a grant from the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The ECF is a $7.17 billion program created as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and is intended to help libraries and schools provide services needed for remote learning and to close the Homework Gap for students who do not have internet access.

“I’m proud that we’ve now gotten more than 12.5 million kids connected through the Emergency Connectivity Fund,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a May 4 press release. “We have some more work to do to get this help to all our students, but this is major progress on closing the Homework Gap in the United States.”

NOPL cardholders can check out one tablet for up to six months at a time. At that point, it must be returned to the library and re-checked out – they cannot be auto-renewed. Each device comes with an unlimited data plan from T-mobile and can act as a mobile hotspot for up to 10 additional devices. Cardholders who are under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the checkout agreement before they will be allowed to borrow a tablet.

Naturally, tablets can only be returned during the Library’s regular operating hours and must be brought inside to the counter. Any tablet that is returned without its keyboard will result in a $25 charge to the borrower. The data plan for each tablet will be canceled 24 hours after it is due back at the library, rendering it unusable. Any tablet that is 90 days overdue will result in a $55 charge to the borrower, which cannot be waived until the tablet is returned.

In addition to the new service offering, NOPL announced that in-person storytime is returning to all Library locations. Storytimes will take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays each week in a combination of indoor and outdoor events. Patrons looking for specific information about their branch’s storytime can find the calendar here.

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