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Man holding an HCPL Connected Acer Chromebook to the camera and smiling

Chromebooks Available January 2023

Harris County Public Library is working with T-Mobile to provide computers and internet to those in our community who need them.

Using American Rescue Plan Act funding, HCPL is partnering with T-Mobile to put connectivity and technology into the hands of people who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. HCPL will make 15,000 Google Chromebook laptop computers with built-in internet connectivity available for extended checkout at most HCPL branches and community partner locations.

Already have a Chromebook and want to learn how to get the most out of it? Click here.

HCPL Connected

What are Chromebooks?
Click here to find out more about the Chromebooks that are available at your local HCPL branch and partner locations

Chromebooks will be available in January 2023.Acer 511 Chromebook

Acer 11.6" - 511 Chromebook

Chromebooks are easy to use laptop computers with a browser-based user experience. They come with built-in WiFi so no other equipment is needed to connect with work and school. They are loaded with Google Chrome extensions and support multiple languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese. They offer Child-safe internet browsing and come with a quick-start guide.

Full description: Acer 11.6" - 511 Chromebook

Who Can Borrow a Chromebook?
Click here to learn about who qualifies and how to check out Chromebooks

You qualify to receive a Chromebook, if:

You have a valid Harris County Public Library card, and you do not have a laptop or desktop computer that meets your work, school, or personal needs.

Simply put, if you are not able to do the things you need and want to do because your internet service or computer is too slow or too unreliable, YOU QUALIFY. You will not be asked to prove you need a device. There are no income restrictions. All you need is an HCPL library card.

Requirements

  • You must have a valid Harris County Public Library card. (Need a library card? See "Get a Libary Card" below)
  • You must register for and attend an ECF Chromebook Orientation at a participating Harris County Public Library branch location. You must register at least one hour before the Orientation begins. 

ECF Chromebook Orientation registration will be available starting January 2023.

Limits & Restrictions

Limit one (1) Chromebook per library card.

A parent or guardian must be present at the orientation appointment for children under 13 years.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Several organizations in Harris County including some area school districts have received ECF funds to provide laptop computers to the public. If you have received a laptop computer from any other ECF-funded organization, you are NOT eligible to receive one from HCPL or any of its partners.

What ECF Chromebooks Cannot Do. 

ECF Chromebooks are provided with funding from the federal government and contain Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) Content Filtering. HCPL staff does not have the ability to remove or change filtering.

CIPA Filtering prohibits the viewing and use of the following:

  • Video Streaming, including Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sites.
  • Adult Themes
  • Sexuality
  • Pornography
  • Hacking
  • Illegal Downloads
  • Proxy Bypass
  • Hate/Discrimination
  • Drugs

Get a Library Card

Chromebooks can be checked out using any HCPL library card account including Kids Know cards (Parent or guardian must be present at ECF Chromebook Orientation for children under 13 years to receive a device).

You will need a library card before you register for ECF Chromebook Orientation. 

Apply for an iKnow Digital Access Card online or apply for a full-service HCPL Knowledge Card at any HCPL branch library
Library Card Application Form | Solicitud de Tarjeta de Biblioteca

Where Can I Get a Chromebook?
Click here for a map of all locations across Harris County

Chromebooks will be available starting January 2023.

The TMC-Library and the Harris County Public Library Administrative Offices do not have any HCPL Connected devices available. 

What Can I Do with the Laptop and WiFi Hotspot?
The sky's the limit! Learn the basics, then keep on learning. Click here for tools and resources to help you get the most out of your laptop.

Visit HCPL Connected for basic computer how-to videos, contact information for troubleshooting problems, and more.

Learn @ HCPL: Many HCPL branches offer free computer classes for beginning and intermediate users. 

Computer Classes @ HCPL

Learn Online: HCPL has a variety of online resources to help you learn computer basics and beyond.

HCPL Connected Playlist

HCPL Youtube Computer Basics

Online Research and Learn Tools

What Is HCPL Connected About?
Click here to find our more about HCPL's mission.

More and more, digital devices and the skills to use them are necessary to fully participate in society. Those without reliable access to the internet are at a severe disadvantage in education, the workforce, and private life. Students without internet or the devices to access it face difficulties completing homework assignments compared to those with home access. Similarly, adults and households without internet or without highspeed service encounter increased costs including loss of work time and limited services.

HCPL is committed to working with private sector partners like T-Mobile to provide internet access and computers to those in our community who do not have them. But wider access to the internet alone is not enough to bridge educational and quality-of-life gaps. HCPL will provide ongoing digital literacy education both in our branches and online to help Harris County residents keep pace with the ever-evolving technological landscape.

Using American Rescue Plan Act funding, HCPL is partnering with T-Mobile to put connectivity and technology into the hands of the people who find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. We will make 15,000 Chromebook laptop computers available for extended check out to anyone who needs one through our community partners and HCPL branch locations.

Who Is Helping the Library with the HCPL Connected project?
Click here to find out about our partners who made this project possible.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile has long been committed to using our 5G network, scale, and resources for good by helping to build a moreT-Mobile Logo connected and equitable future for all. Supporting customers like Harris County Public Library in an initiative aimed at breaking down barriers to access is a great example of how we can open even more doors of opportunity by coming together. Extending opportunities to make it easier for people to wirelessly connect to school and work helps to further bridge the digital divide.

HCPL Connected logo

Getting a Chromebook

When will the library be giving out Chromebooks again? 

The estimated time for Harris County Public Library Chromebook distribution is January 2023. Please continue to check this page and HCPL Connected for updates about scheduling an orientation appointment to get an ECF Chromebook.  

Do I need to pay anything to get a Chromebook? 

No, the ECF Chromebooks are free to users who do not have a computer or laptop that meets their school or work needs and have an HCPL library card 

Qualified users will need to attend an orientation appointment in person to receive an ECF Chromebook. 

How do I schedule an ECF Chromebook Orientation appointment? 

When orientations become available in January 2023, you will be able to schedule an appointment at the top of this page or by calling the library at (713) 274-6600. 

Qualified users will need to be physically present at their orientation appointment within 5 minutes of the start time to receive an ECF Chromebook 

How many Chromebooks can I get? 

One Chromebook will be presented per person in attendance during the orientation appointment, If the attendee previously received a Chromebook from HCPL, any of its community partners, or any other ECF-funded organization, they will not receive a Chromebook.

I lost my library card. What should I do?

You can go to any of HCPL's 26 library locations to get a new library card or to verify your personal information to get a card reissued to you. You will need a Texas State ID or Driver's License to verify your identity if you do not remember your PIN or other account information. 

I’ve never had a library card, do I need to come into the library to get one? 

Not necessarily. If you have a valid email account and have never had an HCPL library card before, you can get an HCPL iKnow Digital Access Card by filling out this online iKnow Digital Access Form. Your iKnow Card will allow you to receive a Chromebook when you attend orientation. iKnow Cards also give you access to all of HCPL's eBooks, streaming video, streaming music and research tools. If you want to checkout books and DVDs you will need a full-service library card.

If you do not have an email account, please come to any of HCPL's 26 library locations to get a full-service HCPL library card. Please bring an official photo ID. 

 

How long can I keep the Chromebook?

HCPL is making Chromebooks available for extended checkouts. They will automatically renew, so you can take your time to learn and get comfortable with the devices.

You can return your items at any time to any HCPL location.

Can my child receive a Chromebook?

Yes. Any HCPL library cardholder can check out a Chromebook if they meet the requirements and attend an ECF Chromebook Orientation.

A parent or guardian must be present for children under 13 years of age

About ECF Chromebooks

Can I use my Chromebook to watch Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services?

No. ECF Chromebooks are provided with funding from the federal government and contain Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) Content Filtering. CIPA Filtering prohibits the viewing and use of several streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Video, and others. Please see the CIPA Content Filtering document for a full list of filters. You will receive this document with all the filters at your orientation appointment. 

Can you remove the restrictions on the Chromebook once I get it? 

No, HCPL staff do not have the ability to remove restrictions or CIPA filtering from the devices. 

Do I need WiFi for the Chromebook? 

No! One of the best things about these ECF Chromebooks is that they come with built-in WiFi connectivity. That means anywhere you go, you can connect to the internet for work, school or personal use. You will learn how to connect to it in your orientation appointment. 

I’m not computer savvy, are Chromebooks the same as Windows computers? 

Chromebooks are different from Windows computers. If you want to know more about how to use a Chromebook, visit HCPL Connected for how-to videos, attend a class at a participating library branch or get one-on-one help from a Digital Navigator. You can request a flyer for help at your orientation appointment. 

Who do I contact with questions about using the computer?

A quick start guide packet will be given during your orientation appointment to help you with common questions about using the device.

Visit www.hcpl.net/connected  for video how-tos, links to learning resources, and computer class schedules at HCPL branches.

HCPL staff may also be able to help with basic computer use and common software questions in person at all HCPL branches.

HCPL cannot provide in-depth troubleshooting or technical support. Visit the HCPL Connected page for information about technical support.

Who should I call for technical support?

Many HCPL staff members can assist users with basic computing and common software questions. HCPL cannot provide in-depth troubleshooting or technical support.

Visit Chromebook Technical Support Online

 

What if I break or lose the equipment?

If your device is lost or stolen, contact the library as soon as possible.

HCPL Phone Numbers

Damaged devices should be returned to an HCPL location.

You will not be charged for lost, stolen, or damaged devices. Replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged devices will depend upon availability and is at the discretion of HCPL staff.
 

What is the Emergency Connectivity Fund?

The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is using $7.7 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding through the FCC/USAC E-rate program. Schools and libraries across the country were invited to send in proposals. The goal of the program, for libraries, is to connect otherwise unconnected patrons to the internet in their homes. While the school side of the program is focused on connecting students to eliminate the homework gap, the library program is designed to connect library patrons of all ages. HCPL applied to receive 15,000 Chromebooks and 40,000 T-Mobile WiFi devices.

I received a T-Mobile 5G WiFi Hotspot. How long will the service last?

Service for the T-Mobile 5G WiFi hotspots has been extended through December 2023.

I am having trouble with a T-Mobile 5G WiFi hotspot. Who do I contact?

Visit T-Mobile Troubleshooting for tips or call 1-844-341-4834.

If your T-Mobile Wi-Fi hotspot is damaged or does not work, please return it to any HCPL branch location for replacement (if available).

Print T-Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot Setup Instructions

Library Services Blog View HCPL Blog >

Editor's note: The only thing harder than being the parent or guardian of a young adult who, for whatever reason, has become disconnected from school or work, is being the young adult who is st

Libraries have long since evolved into more than a house of books. We offer a variety of services, programs, and resources to the community.