• Sharon Strover University of Texas at Austin
  • Alexis Schrubbe University of Texas at Austin
Keywords: Rural, mobile, digital divide, community anchor institution


As community anchors and public spaces, libraries are in unique positions to serve emerging 21st century information needs for the unconnected. Some libraries have extended their technology offerings beyond basic computers and Internet to include mobile hotspot lending, which allows patrons to "take home" the Internet from the library. The research in this project examines hotspot lending programs undertaken by the Maine State Library and the Kansas State Library across 24 different libraries in small and rural communities. In the United States, rural areas tend to have lower Internet adoption because many communities face considerable barriers to competitive and fast Internet service, exacerbated by the fact that rural communities tend to be older, of lower-income, and less digitally skilled. This research examines the role of library hotspot lending and how free and mobile-based Internet connects rural communities and serves their information needs. Through qualitative and quantitative assessments this research details the scope and efficacy of programs to reach publics, the impact that rural hotspots have in communities, and the larger information and communications ecosystem in these rural communities in Maine and Kansas.
How to Cite
Strover, S., & Schrubbe, A. (2020). EXPLORING THE RURAL DIGITAL LANDSCAPE: LIBRARIES, EQUITY, AND SCALE. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research. Retrieved from https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/spir/article/view/10508