Charleston County Library, officials look to close rural ‘digital deserts’

VIDEO: Charleston County Library, officials look to close rural ‘digital deserts’

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - In a time when home internet has nearly become a priority for schools and businesses, some still struggle to have basic access.

That’s why the Charleston County Public Library and local officials want to help close the current “digital desert” in rural Charleston County.

Charleston County Public Library director Angela Craig said they will soon be offering dozens of Wi-Fi packs and laptops for people to check out around Hollywood, Adams Run and Edisto Island.

“In district 8, where it is what we consider a digital desert, where there is a lot of digital inequity and the public really doesn’t have a lot of consistent access with online technology or devices, we are working to close that gap one device at a time,” Craig said.

Anyone in the district will be able to check out a laptop or Wi-Fi pack starting for up to three weeks using their library card.

"Some people need WiFi access and a computer so you can check out both of them or some people just need a computer because they have Wi-Fi access," Craig said.

While the Charleston County School District provides remote technology for students, Charleston County councilwoman Anna Johnson said people who are not associated with a school should also be able to have broadband and remote computer access for work.

“Trying to connect that part for The community is that who have people who are working,” Johnson said. “Because the school board only provides service for students and so if you don’t have any children in the school, then that service will not be available to you.”

Similarly to CCSD’s Wi-Fi-enabled buses for students, the Charleston County Public Library plans to enable Wi-Fi in parking lots at key locations like rural community centers and churches for anyone to use.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to digital inequity, but the library can certainly be a solution for some of those things that this community and others have been struggling with,” Craig said.

Craig said the take home Wi-Fi packs and computers, as well as the on-site hotspot areas will be ready for use in September.

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