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No Internet Access? Onondaga County Residents Can Check Out "Tech Packs" From Libraries

John Smith

Onondaga County is investing $100,000 to bridge the digital divide and lessen the impact of poverty. The tech pack program is run through the libraries and allows people to checkout a hotspot and a laptop computer for three weeks.

County Executive Ryan McMahon says the lack of infrastructure and the cost of the internet leave students without access to valuable information.

I listened to many students, board members, and librarians about his need and how it's a good way to bridge the technology gap for poor and our rural students.”                        

McMahon says the roughly 200 new packs will be distributed throughout the Onondaga County Public library system based on community need. Executive Director Janet Park sees the potential for parents and students to use this program for both educational and employment opportunities.

Credit John Smith / WAER News
The Betts Branch library on S. Salina St. is one place to check out a tech pack.

"They could be adults, children, anyone.  We have a lot of people who are working on job applications that have to be done online.  If they can't get to the library during the day, maybe they check this out and take it home at night.”                   

Park says the expansion would make it easier for people to renew the pack if they need for longer than three weeks. This program is funded from 2018 budget surplus and is what McMahon calls a short-term strategy to fight poverty.

It's one of many smaller initiatives that fall into all the things we're trying to do to help alleviate poverty in our community.  These small victories are good days.”                   

The libraries currently have nine tech packs in the city and 32 in the suburban areas.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at