The internet is the place where many of us get up-to-the-minute news and information, access resources that we need to live well, and to connect with family, friends, and colleagues. If you or someone you care for does not know how to use technology, does not have a device or a broadband connection at home, or cannot make it into one our Library locations for access or assistance, this can create a huge barrier to essential services.
If you or someone you know is not able to connect to the internet, we’re here to help. Let’s start with ways to get access through a home internet connection or a mobile phone.
Resources for Accessing Internet
Internet service can be very expensive, and people living on a fixed income may not be able to afford the standard rates charged by service providers.
In Allegheny County, people who qualify are able to sign up for Comcast Internet Essentials. Internet Essentials offers a $9.95 a month home internet package to people who qualify for public assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, School Lunch, Housing Assistance, SSI, and more.
Other Internet Service Providers may also provide income-qualified programs. Contact your provider to see what is available.
You do not need a home computer to access the internet. In fact, many people use a smartphone as their main or only way to connect.
Smartphones can be expensive, but, as with home internet, there are programs available for income-qualified people to get free or reduced-cost phones and phone plans.
You may have seen ads or heard about what people often refer to as “government phones.” By this, people are usually referring to the Lifeline Program, which offers eligible the chance to get discounted or free cell phone service, including a voice and data plan. According to the PA Public Utilities Commission, the following providers offer Lifeline service in Allegheny County:
Remember to do your research on these providers and to read any agreement that you are asked to sign. If you have questions, always ask a trusted person for a second opinion. A librarian can help you find information about any company.
Digital Literacy Skills
Even if you have a computer, tablet or phone and can access the internet from home, you may still need some help learning how to use them or use them well.
If you are unable to come into one of our locations, the Library offers options for building literacy skills from home.
Even from home, you can ask a librarian for help:
- Phone — Call your local CLP branch or the Main location at 412-622-3114 and leave a message; a librarian will call you back as soon as possible.
- Email — Write us at email@example.com and a librarian will write back with help.
- Chat — Go to www.carnegielibrary.org, and look for the chat window. Librarians are online during business hours.
There are also plenty of great websites to help you learn how to use technology. Here are some of my top picks from DigitalLearn, CLP’s online tutorials, and GCF Learn Free, a free set of online courses in a variety of topics:
- Learn to use a mouse and keyboard.
- Get around on a website.
- Set up an email account.
- Get started on Facebook.
- Get started using an Android or iPhone.
- Make a resume, search and apply for jobs online.
I hope that these resources help. If you run into any trouble or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at 412-622-3114 (leave a message) or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!