By Erica Rosalle
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic hit students hard. The PCOM (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine) Georgia student community experienced sudden lifestyle adjustments such as reduced income sources, which affected the acquisition of basic necessities such as food, housing, and transportation. During this unique period of time, many students suddenly found themselves in need of stable and affordable internet access to attend classes. The PCOM Library decided to tackle this last item by implementing a hotspot lending program, with the goal of removing a barrier to student success during this difficult time.
In August of 2020, the PCOM Library applied for and received a $15,000 grant from the National Library of Medicine to purchase the initial batch of hotspots. In September of 2020, the Library acquired 11 hotspot devices through Mobile Beacon, which specializes in providing hotspots to nonprofits such as libraries. A team of library staff, led by Barbara Wood, MLIS, administered the hotspot lending program across its three campus libraries. Interested students were invited to fill out a survey to determine need, and hotspots were distributed to students based on those results. Each hotspot loan was for one term, in the hope that as many students as possible would be able to take advantage of the program.
The response to this initiative from the student community was enthusiastic. By the end of fall term 2020, the Library already had a waiting list of students hoping to participate for spring. For both fall and spring terms, all hotspots were checked out; the PCOM Library plans to expand the program for this next academic year by adding seven hotspots to the collection.
To learn more about the library and its programs, visit the library website at https://library.pcom.edu/