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Libraries in Chicago and New York will soon let people check out Wi-Fi hotspots

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Two libraries in the US plan to offer programs that let patrons check out Wi-Fi hotspots like they would books. The New York Public Library and the Chicago Public Library are both recipients of funding from the Knight Foundation that will help launch separate Wi-Fi hotspot lending programs. Both plans aim to give low-income households 24-hour access to the internet. "Providing continuous access will expand [people's] ability to participate fully in the modern economy and allow them to continue to learn, work, explore and create after the library's doors have closed," the NYPL said in its pitch.

Check the internet out

The two programs differ in their scope. The NYPL's $500,000 grant will offer 10,000 households a hotspot for a full year. That's as opposed to the 40 minutes of use people can get once a day through the library's 92 branches, and well beyond the pilot the library's done with 100 hotspots for the past month. The CPL program is more stringent, giving patrons a three week loan of the hardware.

Seven other projects received major grant money as part of the Knight News Challenge. That list includes Code2040's plan to offer professional technology programs to minority students, funding for secure mobile messaging app TextSecure, and support for open internet project Measurement Lab.