Creating and Sustaining Collaborative Partnerships: The Eugene Public Library’s Nonprofit Wi-Fi Hotspot Lending Collection
Keywords:library outreach, digital divide, library partnership with nonprofits, public library partnership, library partnerships, library collaborations, library lending hotspots, library lending Wi-Fi
As the pandemic forced the Eugene Public Library (EPL) to close its doors and re-imagine services, the Eugene Public Library Foundation created a grant program for staff to obtain funds for small projects that focus on connecting marginalized patrons with information resources. The first of these “Innovation Grants” was awarded to staff at the Bethel Branch Library to create a pilot program in which Wi-Fi hotspots were made available to local nonprofit agencies serving marginalized and at-risk clients. The success of the pilot program led to a wider fundraising effort to create a permanent nonprofit Wi-Fi lending program. EPL currently maintains a collection of 200 hotspot devices which are solely for use by nonprofit partners. Lending Wi-Fi devices for partners to share with clients and to support internal operations has sparked an entirely new type of relationship between the library and the nonprofit community. This article shares this story as a template for other Oregon libraries to envision rethinking their approach to nonprofit partnerships.