Internet Access and Our Libraries
By Andy Flynt
Director of Reference Services, Spartanburg County Public Libraries
Libraries across the country have been providing Internet access since the mid-1990s and wireless access since the mid-2000s. Spartanburg County Public Libraries (SCPL) has provided wireless access to the public since at least 2010 with access points inside all of our locations. Reception in our main library parking lot and branch library parking lots has been hit or miss. At one point, it was a safety issue to provide this access after hours in our parking lots. Bandwidth also became an issue. As people realized we had the service and streaming audio and video became more widespread, we began to use more and more bandwidth in providing our wireless access.
Things changed when COVID appeared. We had patrons sitting in our parking lots even as our libraries were closed due to the pandemic. The increased need was quickly evident and we responded. By the spring of 2022, the libraries had secured funding for longer range Wi-Fi access points at all of our buildings and by August 2022, we can confidently say that expanded Wi-Fi access is available at all of our locations and covers the greatest parts of all of our parking lots.
Another area that we saw a need was in lending MiFi hotspots. Many areas of our county still don’t have good broadband access to the Internet and we recognized that need several years ago. As the pandemic hit, we began our own MiFi lending program. SCPL’s MiFi lending program is called SCPL Hotspot. We started the program in 2020 as a partnership program through the SC State Library. The State Library provided MiFi devices and service via Kajeet. We started with 22 MiFi units in December 2020. We have a few requirements in place to borrow a device:
Thoughtful Online Info Consumption
By Dr. Phillip Stone
As League members, we recognize that not all of the information that’s spreading on social media and other outlets is good information. How do we make sure that we are reading and sharing accurate information, particularly as it relates to democracy, with our friends and families?
The Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency has a website that talks about misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.
The easiest thing for you to do when you see a story or social media post that just doesn’t sound right is to verify it on some other website. Think about what you are reading. Ask questions like:
A false story spreads faster than the truth online. Once shared, bad information doesn’t go away. It just keeps spreading. Stories about Bill Murray running for president, even when debunked and denied, spread for months. Dis-information in particular can be designed to cause harm or sow division. Some stories can manipulate the stock market or further polarize an already divided electorate. In recent years, issues that have become especially polarizing - stories related to Covid-19 or election denialism - have spread to willing audiences.
The Rand Corporation has a site about what they call “truth decay” that has tools and links that can help you check information. Rand particularly notes an increasing disagreement about facts, a blurring between fact and opinion writing, and a decline in trust in formerly respected sources of facts. Too often, readers won’t even believe it when you challenge their post with facts, often responding that the site you are referencing is itself biased.
Sometimes the best we can do as responsible citizens is make sure that we ourselves aren’t helping share bad information. If in doubt, don't share it!
The LWVS Blog is authored by members of the League of Women Voters of Spartanburg County with a central editor.