Surrey Libraries is celebrating the success of a laptop-lending program launched last year to help promote technology literacy and reduce barriers to technology access in the community.
Through the Chromebook Lending Project (CLP), Surrey Libraries loans Chromebooks to partner organizations to help their clients find employment, connect with their community, or help them learn English, among other uses.
“Surrey Libraries noticed a gap in access to devices both before and during the pandemic,” Jenny Fry, director of learning, programs and partnership with Surrey Libraries, explained this week of the program’s beginnings.
“The provincial government provided one-time funding to public libraries for digital literacy initiatives, and we used the funds to launch this program. We’re very pleased that it’s been so successful.”
Currently, seven local non-profit organizations are participating in the CLP: Options Community Services Society, DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, Umoja Operation Compassion Society, Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society, Brella Community Services Society, Sources Community Resources Society and S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
For S.U.C.C.E.S.S., the initiative “has been a great opportunity for clients with limited access to computers and it had a huge impact during their settlement integration in Canada,” Massi Moosavi, outreach services manager at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., said.
“By having the Chromebooks, the clients have been able to attend LINC classes, communicate with different agencies to address their settlement needs and also connect with the community by attending virtual activities for themselves and their families.”
Options clients have similarly benefited, as the loanable laptops have enabled them to participate in online English classes, information sessions and generally improve their computer skills, particularly during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic where many organizations had to suspend in-person technology services.
“The computer was very helpful because I was able to do my ceremony and oath of citizenship virtually without any obstacles,” Options client, Alma Gabriela Bowles, said.
Surrey Libraries staff also provide individual technology help and instruction on using the Chromebooks, which also come with basic-use instructions in English, Spanish and Arabic.
Those interested in borrowing a Chromebook need to be at least 19 years of age, live in Surrey, have access to Wi-Fi, and be clients of one of the partner non-profit organizations.
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