Brooklyn Public Library works to connect Brooklynites with affordable internet at digital resource fair

brooklyn public library internet tech fair
The Brooklyn Public library taught residents about various free or discounted digital resources at a community tech fair on Dec. 16.
Photo courtesy of Larissa Larrier/BPL

The Brooklyn Public Library hosted a digital resource fair at the newly-opened Sunset Park Library on Dec. 16, where the team spent the day showing off their digital and technical resources and teaching residents about the affordable connectivity program, a city-wide initiative that connects eligible households with discounted high-speed internet. 

Larissa Larrier, librarian and digital navigation manager for BPL, said the team is working to spread knowledge of the program in neighborhoods where many people don’t have internet service — including Sunset Park, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Brownsville and East New York. Across New York City, approximately 8% of households don’t have any internet access, according to a 2021 report by the New York City Council, and nearly 25% don’t have high-speed broadband service. In Sunset Park, roughly 26% of households don’t have broadband. 

Tech brainiacs and librarians sat down with residents to discuss what resources were available to them like discounted internet, computers and more.
Tech experts and librarians sat down with residents to discuss the digital resources were available to them — like discounted internet, computers and more. Photo courtesy of Larissa Larrier/BPL

“We are working though all of Kings County to connect individuals,” she said. “We’ve just been steady with working across Brooklyn to spread the awareness to families and try to connect them to the resources that they need because we all know internet is no longer a luxury.”

The affordable connectivity program, which offers up to $30 off a family’s monthly internet bill, was developed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when online learning was prevalent. Internet access is still a necessity for school children, said to Fritzi Bodenheimer, press officer for BPL, and one that some families and schools don’t recognize.

“If you’re a kid and you don’t have good access, you might fall behind in school because you can’t keep up with your homework at home or you might not be able sign up for a vaccine or 100 other things. Internet is truly essential,” she said. “This program is extraordinary. It’s accessible to every person.”

To be eligible for the program, a family must either benefit from a government assistance program, have a child who attends a New York City, public school or have a household income that is 200% or less than the federal poverty guidelines. The Brooklyn Public Library holds regular outreach sessions and enrollment workshops to inform Brooklynites about the program and help eligible families sign up. 

brooklyn public library internet workshop
The Affordable Connectivity Program offers $30 off monthly internet bills from participating providers. Photo courtesy of Larissa Larrier/BPL

Larrier said there are talks of the affordable program ending, but the library will keep advocating for the “essential” project. 

“We’re trying to make sure our elected officials but into this because ACP is expected to expire but I think with the great work we’ve been doing at BPL, we’ve been able to show that this program is needed,” she told Brooklyn Paper. “I’m very optimistic that people in positions of power will do what they need to do to ensure that we can continue to do this work.”