Portage County District Library has added mobile hotspots to the list of things people can check out for free.

The library recently announced it purchased 40 mobile hotspots that people can check out for two weeks at a time. The devices and data plans were purchased from Verizon with funds raised in last year's 50/50 raffle.

"Last year, we got some money from the 50/50 raffle and we took that and bought mobile hotspots that we let people check out for free for two week intervals," said Gregory Trask, manager at the Garrettsville and Windham branches. "We were able to purchase 40 of these with some of those funds and also pay for the monthly costs."

A mobile hotspot is a small wireless device that creates a Wi-Fi network for smart phones and tablets. The "pocket router" converts 3G and 4G cellular signals to Wi-Fi, creating a mobile Wi-Fi network that can be used anywhere and shared by multiple users close to the device. Most wireless carriers offer mobile hotspot devices and wireless data plans required to enable them.

"It's unlimited access," Trask said. "After 26 gigabytes, it does slow down, but then it resets the following month. We got these through Verizon. They're incredibly popular. In fact, they're so popular we've ordered an additional 40."

The mobile hotspots are available to check out at all Portage County libraries, excluding Kent Free Library and Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna because those are separate entities.

"This is for people who can't afford internet," Trask said. "For people who the services don't come out to their homes. There's several people who come to the library in that boat and also if someone wants to go on vacation.

"It works anywhere within the continental United Sates. You have a two week lending period, so if you're going on vacation for a week you can just take the hotspot with you."

Trask also noted the Garrettsville branch's new LED sign. The sign was largely funded by donations from Garrettsville's Fraternal Order of Eagles and community members.

"The Eagles give us donations every year and so we saved up two years of donations and we were able to pay for more than half of that sign, which is really a large amount of money," Trask said. "It looks really nice and we're able to communicate better with the community."

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