Boonslick Regional Library purchases 42 chromebooks after receiving money from CARES ACT

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
The Boonslick Regional Library recently received $37,548 from the CARES ACT Coronavirus Relief Fund to help purchase chromebooks and hotspots for distance learning and telehealth services.

The Boonslick Regional Library, which services three counties in Cooper, Pettis and Benton, just got a little richer after receiving $37,584 from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.

With the monies from the grant, the Boonslick Regional Library purchased chromebooks and hotspots for distance learning and telehealth services.

Linda Allcorn, director of Boonslick Regional Library, said each county will receive a total of 14 chromebooks in addition to hotspots for patrons to utilize for medical appointments or distance learning. 

Allcorn said because of the virus, there was a great need for those that are needing doctor’s appointments and distance learning and this grant was one way of meeting the people’s needs.

“We looked at how we could come together and Missouri Governor Mike Parson decided that this would be a great way to get funding, so we applied for money for telehealth and distance learning to help address that need, and we were able to purchase that for each county,” Allcorn said. “Each county received 14 chromebooks, so we have a total of 42 kits that are paid throughout our three county library district, so we’re very excited.”

Allcorn said patrons just need a library card to check out a chromebook or to get a hotspot. If they do not have a current library card, they can go to the library’s website and get a card online, or contact the library at 660-827-READ and request one that way. 

Allcorn added that hotspots are available to circulate to the patrons or anyone 18 years or older that has a library card. She said to check out a chromebook the patrons also have to be 18 years or older, but noted that parents can check them out for the kids to utilize them at home. 

“The hotspots are available throughout our library district so if someone does not have a good internet source, they can place the hotspot on hold by going online, or they can just call us and we’ll get them a hotspot that will give them free internet access,” Allcorn said. “Patrons can check those out for a week at a time, or however they wish. There with just the hotspots, they would need to have their own laptop or some device in order to utilize that service, so we have individual hotspots that can be checked out.”

Allcorn said the libraries do have iPads that can be checked out and used in their parking lots for an hour or two. She said the library also has an extended WiFi service in the parking lots that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People can pull in the parking lot and park their vehicle but would need to have their devices and piggyback off the free WiFi service, she said.

The Boonslick Regional Library also has a mobile printing service. Allcorn said the print service will go to the library, but if they are there at night at the library is closed, they will need to come in that next day and they will release a print job and give it to the patron. 

“That’s another available service we have for our patrons,” Allcorn said. “We also offer BRL Bookmobile To Go that travels throughout our three counties and provides free internet service from the vehicle. Patrons just pull up beside the vehicle and piggyback off of our WiFi service. There again, the patrons will need to have a device that has WiFi connection service. We do go to Boonville, but we go to Pilot Grove, Blackwater and Prairie Home and try to hit some of the smaller areas mainly. All people need to do is just look for us.”

Although the Boonslick Regional Library has been shutdown since May, they’re continuing to provide services to keep the community safe. Allcorn said that’s where the hotspots come into play for communities. She refers to it as contactless library service.

“Everything that we are targeting and focusing on are ways to keep our communities and patrons healthy and safe, but to provide programs and services to our patrons in a different way,” Allcorn said. “These methods have been a great resource, and the chromebook kits are new that we received a couple of weeks ago and we’re just sending those out to our libraries. They are brand new and ready to be used.”

Allcorn said in order to get a chromebook, which are set up for both distance learning and virtual health, the patrons just have to communicate with the staff during check out. She said for virtual health, the patron might not need it for a long period of time, but  for distance learning, the patron may need it as long as a month. 

Allcorn added that the Boonslick Regional Library has also added a number of exciting  online products such as downloadable movies and audio books. All the patron needs again is a library card. In addition, Allcorn said the library has also expanded their eBook collection so they are getting bestsellers, which are on the New York Times bestsellers list. 

“We also have cooking, crafts and music that are provided online,” Allcorn said. “That was a real big thing when COVID first hit. People were learning how to play all these cool instruments. We added one of those teaching tools to our website and added that subscription service, so patrons will just go to the library’s website.

“There’s a lot of opportunities out there that the library has to offer, so we’re thrilled, and we’re hoping that the chromebooks kits will be used for both telehealth and virtual learning and meet a need that currently hasn’t been able to be met, but because of that CARES Funding, we were able to get that money to help us pay for that.”

Allcorn said she did contact the local health department to let them know that they have the chromebook kits available to help spread the word on the medical side for some of the community members that might not want to go into a doctor’s appointment if they’re concerned about getting out and about. She said they just need to come and get a kit and then have an appointment online.