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Harford libraries to use grant money to expand Wi-Fi access beyond its buildings

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved on Thursday a nearly $24,000 emergency grant that will allow the Harford County Public Library to expand Wi-Fi access beyond its 11 branches before summer begins.

The $23,863.17 Emergency Broadband Education Assistance Grant came from the Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband, which provides financial assistance through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

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Wi-Fi will be expanded by approximately 300 feet at each of the libraries in Harford County, according to a news release. The library estimates that the extended WiFi will be available to the community in early June.

Many individuals and families without Internet access at home have been accessing the internet by sitting in the parking lots of library branches throughout the county, according to the release. The additional Wi-Fi reach at each library will especially assist students and families in areas of Harford County which do not have access to high-speed Internet service.

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“We are so grateful to Gov. [Larry] Hogan and his team for supporting this grant,” said Mary Hastler, CEO of Harford County Public Library, in a prepared statement.

“During the quarantine for the pandemic, we have learned how important it is to have access to the Internet for children to continue their studies, for adults who are working remotely and for entertainment purposes for the entire family," she said. "This grant will help the library expand its reach to the community.”

The library has been offering Wi-Fi to its customers for the past decade.

Harford County Public Library has branches in Aberdeen, Abingdon, Bel Air, Edgewood, Darlington, Fallston, Havre de Grace, Jarrettsville, Joppa, Norrisville and Whiteford.

While the Harford library’s branches have been closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, customers are still able to check out the library’s free online resources for children and adults.

The library offers 24/7 access to eBooks, eMovies, eMagazines, comics, movies, television programs, research databases and more for all ages. They may be found by visiting the library’s website at HCPLonline.org.

Customers need a Harford County Public Library card to access online resources. People who don’t have a card and sign up for one at HCPLmd.org/digitalcard.

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