From the Miami Herald:
Once again, Christina Morua found herself in the South Dade library longer than she’d like on a school night. The 28-year-old single mom sat in the bustling children’s section on a recent Thursday night, waiting for her fourth-grader to get on a computer and start her online math homework.
“We don’t have any Internet at home,” Morua said as her oldest, 11-year-old Abel, clicked through an assignment on a library laptop while Alina, 9, waited for her turn at a desktop. “We just reserved a computer. We have to wait 70 minutes. He got one of the last laptops.”
With more school materials heading online, parents like Morua find they can no longer count on home for homework. That leaves Miami-Dade libraries as a crucial venue for their youngest patrons, but funding challenges, reduced hours on school nights and aging equipment have made it harder to meet demands.
“The laptops we do have, the batteries aren’t working,” said Patricia Readon, a librarian working the children’s desk the night the Moruas came to the South Dade branch in Cutler Bay. “You can check out a laptop, and the next 30 minutes it’s dead. The sad part is, if you don’t have a computer, you can’t do your homework.”
Morua’s long wait for a computer offers a flip side to the current debate over how best to reinvent Miami-Dade’s libraries. That discussion has largely focused on how to attract people with no current interest in libraries — entrepreneurs who need office space, twenty-somethings who might like a Starbucks near the checkout counter, and 3-D printers for the “maker” movement of techy do-it-yourselfers.
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