The Miami-Dade Public Library System launched a new lending program last week that allows all library cardholders to borrow a Samsung tablet for 30 days.
According to Rafael Costa, the assistant director for public services for the library’s 50+ branches, this program is a long-time coming, with the need more apparent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources are funded by the CARES Act of March 2020, which awarded $13.8 million to American libraries and museums. The money allowed the library system last Monday to deploy 600 tablets amongst its locations throughout the county.
“The internet is not a luxury anymore,” said Costa. “We have learned it is now a necessity for how people do business, education, and even applying for governmental assistance, like Section 8, for instance. So, with the tablets, we provide the customer with the apps necessary, like Zoom, social media, Microsoft Office Suite, etc. that can support them either recreationally or educationally.”
The program has proven successful in the small amount of time it has been available to the public. According to Rhonda Murray, the customer service supervisor at the North Dade Library in Miami Gardens, six or seven of the 15 tablets available at the location have been checked out.
“Everything that has happened in the past year with COVID-19 has highlighted the digital divide that does exist,” said Murray. “It is not just a matter of access to the internet itself, but equipment that is able to get online conveniently from wherever you are is now a necessity and we are trying to fulfill that need.”