Initiative brings free WiFi to Hickory Public Library parking lots

HICKORY, NC (December 22, 2020) — Free 5G WiFi now is available in Hickory Public Library parking lots as part of the state’s N.C. Student Connect partnership and “Park and Learn” project.

The new WiFi network is in action at both Hickory Public Library branches – Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Branch Library. To connect to a network while in the vicinity of a library, look for NCGuestWiFi in your device’s list of available networks.

Intended to create accessible sites where students can connect to the internet to download lessons in order to complete assignments at home, the parking lot WiFi is available 24/7 and filtered to be compliant with the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Although provided primarily for students, the internet access is available for anyone with a capable mobile device.

The Park and Learn project, which is funded by a federal CARES Act grant, is part of a broader effort called N.C. Student Connect and aims to provide free high-speed WiFi access to students in rural communities.

N.C. Student Connect was created this year to improve internet connectivity and fill gaps that are a barrier to remote learning. The $40 million initiative is a partnership of state government agencies, including the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Hometown Strong, the Department of Information Technology, the Governor’s Education Advisor, and the N.C. Business Committee for Education, to rapidly connect students with remote learning. In addition to WiFi access sites, the initiative is providing 100,000 hotspots for students and remote learning professional development for educators.

Patrick Beaver Memorial Library is located at 375 Third Street NE on the SALT Block. Ridgeview Branch Library is located at 706 First Street SW, with physical operations temporarily inside the neighboring Ridgeview Recreation Center at 115 Seventh Avenue SW.

For more information about Hickory Public Library, available WiFi networks, and other remote learning tools, please call 828-304-0500.