With the school year set to begin in a virtual capacity, those seeking better internet capabilities can receive it thanks to Mission’s Speer Memorial Library.
The library, located at 801 E 12th St. remains closed to the public. However, students taking online classes are welcome to go to the library parking lot which provides free Wi-Fi for the public.
“We also have 150 hotspots that people can check out for two weeks before returning,” Speer Memorial Library Director Mayra Rocha said. “We have Wi-Fi available at our parking lot 24/7.
“It’s such a big deal. Sometimes it’s not necessary for people to come here in person they just need to park to access the Wi-Fi. We are expecting a lot of students from the area to use this service once school begins.”
To check out a hotspot device, patrons need their library card, utility bill and license. The Wi-Fi however is free and open to all.
Nearly a third of all Hidalgo County residents live in rural areas and as such, don’t have reliable internet.
“It’s why we’re doing what we can to continue to offer a service that we were regularly providing to the public before we closed to the public,” Rocha said.
Though it’s currently closed for foot traffic, Speer Memorial Library is offering curbside service to patrons where they can either call the library to check out a book to have it delivered there.
“We also do printing services in case they need stuff printed,” Rocha said. “Service has slowed down with the stay at home orders we received last spring, we’re not seeing the same amount of crowds by any means. People are scared to come out but people are doing things digitally. Our services from checking out e-books, audiobooks and e-magazines have increased. People can view these items online and download them to their device and have it saved there to not have to rely on internet services to have it available.”
The library is also providing other online resources such as Universal Classes, a program where those with a library class can take online classes on any subject and be certified in that field.
The summer season is usually a busy one for the library with its Summer Reading Program where participants can go to summer camps at the library to partake in crafts, reading assignments and story time.
“Now it’s been virtual with people doing their reading assignments at home and dropping off their reading packets to the library and picking up craft bags to do crafts at home,” Rocha said. “We also have story time through Facebook Live to continue to provide that. COVID-19 has affected all the cities here but it’s always been a priority to provide internet access to the public.”
To ensure the safety of library employees and the rest of the public, hand sanitizing station have been implemented in the library, weekly sanitation of the building is done and social distancing, temperature checks and use of facial coverings are enforced at the library.
Every item that is being dropped off at the library is sanitized and quarantined from the other library items for two weeks before being circulated back to the public, Rocha added.
“It’s very weird. Normally here in the library it’s always been a busy time in the summer because of our programs and activities throughout the summer but this was one for the book,” Rocha said. “We’ll see how the city and county progresses. Hopefully our numbers will go down, I don’t know what’s coming or what normal will be when we get back to it but with so much going on online, we’re making sure people have access to our services at home.”