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Buncombe County Public Libraries to Launch Laptop Loan Program to Help Bridge Digital Divide

Different people are pictured using laptops.

Now more than ever, access to broadband is critical to participate in online learning, access medical care via telehealth, search for jobs, or simply to stay in touch with family and friends. Buncombe County Public Libraries (BCPL), in partnership with Land of Sky Regional Council is pleased to announce the launch of the Library Laptop Loan Program on April 16, 2021, as many in our community rely on their local library for connectivity.

With grant funding provided by the State Library of North Carolina through the CARES Act, BCPL is responding to the needs of patrons during the coronavirus pandemic by bringing digital tools such as Wi-Fi and tablets into the community. “We are excited to launch this program and look forward to working with folks to let them know about this opportunity and how it can help bridge the digital divide, especially in rural and low-income communities," says Library Director Jim Blanton.

Following the launch of the program BCPL will have laptops/hotspots or hotspots only, that patrons 18 and over, with a Buncombe County library card in good standing may check out for one month at a time. Call the Ask-a-Librarian line at (828) 250-4700 to request a device. There is no charge for the service but charges may be incurred for losses or not returning a device. This program is alignment with the 2025 Buncombe County Strategic Plan and supports an educated and capable community.

The fine print:

  • One unit per household (unit defined as laptop/hotspot combo or hotspot only)
  • Only patrons 18 and over with a Buncombe County library card in good standing may check out
  • One month checkout limit
  • $100 charge if laptop is not returned or lost
  • $30 charge if hotspot is not returned, lost, or returned damaged
  • $20 if laptop power cord is not returned or lost
  • Patrons must call to request a device
  • Devices can be sent to any Buncombe County Library for pick up
  • Borrowers will sign a user agreement before borrowing the equipment
  • Devices cannot be renewed and will be disabled when they are one week overdue
  • Devices must be returned inside (no drop boxes)
  • Borrowers will be asked to fill out a survey upon return of equipment
  • If laptop is stolen or not returned after two weeks overdue, a police report will be filed
  • All laptops include Microsoft Office Suite and will have basic computer skills training videos/information loaded on to its desktop

A BCPL technology troubleshoot team will be available to assist patrons over the phone with any issues that come up with this equipment. The operational hours of this team will be from 10 a.m. until the library closes each day.

This program is made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-246551-OLS-20).