KCLS awarded CARES Act grant to advance digital equity

Free public Wi-Fi now available outside most KCLS libraries via new external hotspots

The King County Library System (KCLS) received a federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant from the Washington State Library (WSL) to expand digital inclusion in King County. KCLS used the funding to help install external Wi-Fi Access Points (AP) at 44 library locations. The external APs give King County residents access to the internet outside libraries while buildings remain closed to the public.

The WSL received the funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support libraries in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Congress provided the federal agency a total of $50 million in the CARES Act to distribute to states and territories.

Since closing libraries to in-building use in March, following orders by Governor Jay Inslee to help slow the spread of COVID-19, KCLS staff expanded access to digital collections and resources, and transitioned programming and services to online platforms. The mandated closures have impacted those who rely on KCLS’ in-building services, and who may have limited internet access needed for distance learning, remote work and other essential services.

KCLS has maintained access to its standard public Wi-Fi signal throughout the pandemic. In some cases, the signal extends outside library buildings and into parking lots, but user experience varies from site to site. The new APs boost Wi-Fi signals and give residents more reliable internet access outside library buildings.

“KCLS continues to find innovative ways to adapt in-building services during this time,” stated KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “We are pleased to offer external Wi-Fi at many more locations throughout the region, and we hope the new service helps connect residents to the digital resources they need.”

Residents do not need a library card or Wi-Fi password to access the free “kcls.org wireless” network. For assistance connecting to Wi-Fi, contact Ask KCLS at kcls.org/ask or call (425) 462-9600 or (800) 462-9600.

The external Wi-Fi hotspots have been installed at the following KCLS libraries:

  1. Algona-Pacific Library   
  2. Auburn Library   
  3. Bellevue Library   
  4. Black Diamond Library    
  5. Bothell Library   
  6. Boulevard Park Library   
  7. Burien Library     
  8. Carnation Library    
  9. Covington Library   
  10. Des Moines Library   
  11. Duvall Library   
  12. Enumclaw Library   
  13. Fairwood Library   
  14. Fall City Library    
  15. Federal Way 320th Library   
  16. Federal Way Library   
  17. Greenbridge Library  
  18. Issaquah Library   
  19. Kenmore Library   
  20. Kent Library   
  21. Kent Panther Lake Library   
  22. Kingsgate Library   
  23. Kirkland Library   
  24. Lake Hills Library   
  25. Maple Valley Library   
  26. Mercer Island Library   
  27. Muckleshoot Library         
  28. Newcastle Library   
  29. Newport Way Library   
  30. North Bend Library          
  31. Redmond Library   
  32. Renton Highlands Library   
  33. Renton Library   
  34. Richmond Beach Library   
  35. Sammamish Library   
  36. Shoreline Library   
  37. Skyway Library   
  38. Snoqualmie Library   
  39. Tukwila Library  
  40. Valley View Library   
  41. Vashon Library   
  42. White Center Library   
  43. Woodinville Library  
  44. Woodmont Library  

The Wi-Fi hotspots are one of many contactless Curbside to Go services available to King County residents during building closures, including curbside pickup and printing, outdoor lockers and more. Find services near you at kcls.org/contactless.