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It’s National Library Week, and though many libraries are closed due to COVID-19, they continue to work to serve their clients and keep them connected to the larger world. To mark the week and honor the incredibly critical role libraries are playing every day both during this crisis and during more normal times, we’re sharing a post from Jill Joplin, Executive Director of the DeKalb County Library Foundation. The DCLF provides support beyond tax dollars to DeKalb County Public Library in Georgia and DCPL is just one of Google Fiber’s many library partners across the country working to help connect their communities during this time. For example, in San Antonio, we’ve partnered with Libraries without Borders to bring their Wash & Learn Initiative to local laundromats—and right now the WiFi has been extended to the parking lots so people can get online from the safety of their cars. In Nashville, Salt Lake City, Austin and other cities we have provided longtime support for Digital Inclusion Fellows and digital literacy support at public libraries.

At DeKalb County Public Library (DCPL), the Take the Internet Home with You initiative is one of the library’s most popular services and in today’s current COVID-19 environment, it is also one of the most valuable. Normally, patrons are able to check-out a WiFi hotspot for 21 days, and the devices are constantly checked out. Patrons wait by the front desk or call the library each day looking for returned hotspots. Our user data reveals more than 50% of patrons who check out these devices do not have access to the internet in their home.


Two of our regular patrons, who check out the devices as often as they can, were able to check out a device prior to the library’s closure due to COVID-19. The library is allowing patrons with the devices to keep them during the entirety of the closure and no late fines are being assessed. We checked in with them to see how they were using their devices. Joan is a retiree without home internet. She is very grateful to be able to keep the device she checked out during the library’s closure. She is staying in touch with her family and up to date with news and updates related to COVID-19. 

Our other patron, William, says what he once considered a pleasure — the ability to get online at home — is now a blessing. He has been able to file his unemployment paperwork online because he also had checked out a hotspot prior to the library closing. He also is keeping in touch with friends and enjoying streaming movies he wouldn’t be able to see without cable or an internet connection in his home. 

Although to many of us it seems like the entire world is virtually connected, in reality, 10% of Americans don’t have access to the Internet — that number goes up to 30% for low-income Americans. Staff at DeKalb County Public Library realized a few years ago that patrons were accessing the library’s WiFi signal during times the library was closed by sitting in the parking lot or on the steps of the building. Once we’d identified this need, DCPL began seeking funding to provide mobile hotspot devices for check out. 

Thanks to our partners at Google Fiber, Mailchimp, and New York Life, DCPL has been able to provide 200 hotspots to patrons across the library system. The library would not be able to offer this service without this funding from our partners.  While demand was always high for this initiative, with the economic impact of COVID-19, we anticipate it will be even more important in the future. We are proud we can support our patrons with this essential service. 

Posted by Jill Joplin, Executive Director,
DeKalb County Library Foundation

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We’re all getting used to our quarantine world — working from home, teaching our kids, wearing masks — a lot has changed in the last month, and it looks like it’s going to be awhile before we return to our regularly scheduled lives.

Finding ways to connect with our families, coworkers, classmates, and friends from a distance has become essential for most of us. Google Fiber is grateful to get to be a part of facilitating that connection for our customers, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We wanted to share how we’re dealing with the COVID-19 crisis as we continue to bring high-speed, high-bandwidth internet to our customers and to our communities to keep even more people connected.

Serving our customers

Internet connections have become the foundation on which we build all our other connections, from work and studies to information and entertainment. A reliable Internet connection with the speed and capacity to meet our ever-growing needs is no longer something that’s just nice to have — it’s a necessity.

That’s why Google Fiber is continuing construction, installations and network maintenance. While most of our team members are working from home, we've made numerous process and equipment changes to protect the health and safety of our field teams, whose jobs require them to be out in the community, connecting customers or maintaining our network.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal protective equipment for our field teams 
  • Regular handwashing and sanitizing
  • Following social distancing practices
  • Restrictions on certain types of construction methods

In addition to these enhanced safety measures to protect our customers and crews, we’re coordinating with local governments and engaging communities within each city we serve to make sure we're charting the right local approach

For the most up-to-date information on our health and safety precautions, please visit our help center. And although our retail Fiber Spaces are closed, we are standing by 24/7 to help with anything you need to make your internet work for you, so please reach out to our team if you need anything.


Serving our communities

Advancing digital inclusion is a central tenet of Google Fiber. In each of our communities, we partner with local organizations doing great work to help build digital literacy and increase internet access for residents.

Over the past two years, Google Fiber has supported nearly 1 million digital literacy training hours, helped provide more than 10,000 free or affordable devices to residents in need, connected 275,000 people to STEM programs, and empowered 7,000 aspiring entrepreneurs with training programs. In fact, in the last two years, our partner organizations were able to reach over 1.3 million unique participants across the country.

But there is much more work to be done. COVID-19 has sharpened that need, drawing clear lines between the digital haves and have-nots. Google Fiber and Webpass are investing in efforts across each of our cities to help more people connect during this difficult time, supporting organizations to help them meet the enormous technology demands for students and workers.

In several cities, including Austin, San Antonio, San Francisco, Irvine, Provo, Salt Lake City, and Chicago, we’ve partnered with the local public school district or their foundation to help students and their families as they adjust to schooling from home — targeting those families most impacted by the digital divide.  In other places, we’ve also funded the efforts of incredible organizations to better serve their communities’ increased needs and help provide devices and hot spots to their  clients:

We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Things are changing on a daily basis, and, like all of you, we’re working to meet the challenges and opportunities of this new normal. We do know that what you need and want from your internet — speed, reliability, great customer service — isn’t changing. We want to help you with that goal, both to help meet today’s challenges and to help take advantage of the opportunities we hope tomorrow presents.

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