Largo, Md. – Since it was founded in 1946, the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) has served as a pillar of the community in Prince George’s County, bringing together residents and the programs and resources that help them achieve their dreams. The Library’s multi-generational impact on the community and track record of developing innovative social equity programs, as has been accentuated during the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in two major gifts totaling $2.52 million from the Pull Up Fund, which lays the foundation for the Library’s evolution over the next three years. $500,000 is dedicated to launching a new program in July 2021 called Online 2Go, which offers over 900 borrowable laptops with built-in internet to customers. $2,020,000 will support the launch of The Commons, which will feature five technology labs and a work-study and fellowship program located at branch libraries throughout the county.
Founded by native Prince Georgian Sam Brin, the Pull Up Fund (pullupfund.org) is committed to “pulling up to underserved communities, and connecting them with the resources they need to thrive.” The Pull Up Fund has supported social equity projects in Maine and Prince George’s County. Brin’s commitment to Prince George’s County focuses on education, food security, and reentry, with an aim of making life in the county more equitable.
“I look back fondly on my years visiting my local library branch as a youth in Prince George’s County. Since then, PGCMLS has shown an impressive ability to adapt to the times and remain a vital community resource. I was excited to find ways to give back to the library system and to bolster their important work throughout the county.” – Sam Brin
“On behalf of the entire community, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Sam Brin and the Pull Up Fund for their sincere commitment to helping our residents reach their individual potential,” said Roberta Phillips, CEO of the Library. “Online 2Go meets an immediate need for internet access in our community and The Commons enables the Library to create new opportunities for discovery, personal achievement, and addressing systemic inequities in technology disciplines.”
These major gifts mark the largest private gifts in the history of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, which begins its 75th anniversary celebration in Fall 2021. The Online 2Go and The Commons projects were developed collaboratively by Roberta Phillips, Michelle Hamiel (COO for Public Services, PGCMLS), and Nicholas A. Brown (COO for Communication and Outreach, PGCMLS), along with Sam Brin and his team. The PGCMLS Foundation, the Library’s charitable arm, is the recipient of these funds that expand Library services and directly benefit Prince George’s County residents. Individuals and corporations interested in supporting the Library’s work may contact Nicholas Brown, COO for Communication and Outreach, at email@example.com.
About Online 2Go
Online 2Go builds on the Library’s existing mobile WiFi hotspot borrowing program that was launched in 2016 and has provided over 1,223 households with free internet access. Public computers and internet at branch libraries has been an essential service for several decades, with 1.7+ million computer and WiFi sessions taking place in FY 2019. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.8% of households in the county lack home broadband access, meaning that over 116,352 Prince Georgians need internet access. The Online 2Go program will serve approximately 7,800 households per year.
Borrowable Chromebooks with built-in internet service will be available for three weeks at a time (renewable once, for a grand total of 6 weeks maximum per loan). The laptops will be available at all PGCMLS branches, with extra devices available for customers who reside in communities that have the greatest need for home internet access. The pilot launch will take place on Monday, July 19, with devices available at three initial branch libraries: New Carrollton, Oxon Hill, and Spauldings. The program will expand to all open branches by early fall 2021. For more information visit pgcmls.info/borrow-technology.
About The Commons
The Commons connects community in physical and virtual spaces for customers to create explore, inspire, and realize together. The Commons provides access to technology, creative spaces, and digital literacy programs that empower Prince Georgians to discover their interests, providing a boost to their own personal achievement, whether a middle schooler who is bound for a STEM-focused high school or an immigrant entrepreneur.
The major gift from the Pull Up Fund will support the development of The Commons labs, new programming and services, and an opportunity pathway for participants to obtain paid work-study positions and competitive fellowships for higher education or technical training as they progress through The Commons programming. Planning and design for The Commons is underway and labs are expected to be operational in 2022. Additional details about programming, access, and the work-study and fellowships will be announced in the coming months. Additional support for The Commons comes from the PGCMLS Foundation, which is raising matching funds for the Life Lab Career Center at the Beltsville Branch Library and the D.R.E.A.M. Lab expansion at the Fairmount Heights Branch Library.
One of the goals of The Commons is to advance opportunities for BIPOC, low income, and immigrant/refugee Prince Georgians to pursue STEM and creative technical training, higher education, and careers. This can only be accomplished with discovery opportunities, training programs, leadership development, and opportunities to gain practical experience that will translate into success in the workforce.
The Commons Locations:
- Beltsville Branch Library: Life Lab Career Center
- Bladensburg Branch Library: Social Justice Incubator
- Largo-Kettering Branch Library: E/Studio – Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Fairmount Heights: D.R.E.A.M. Lab Expansion – Music & Design Production
- Oxon Hill: The Foundry – Innovative & Creative Production
About the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. The Library serves the 915,000+ residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland through 19 branch libraries, a 24/7 online library, and pop-up services throughout the community. PGCMLS is a responsive and trusted community-driven organization. Programs, services, and outreach activities serve booklovers, immigrants and refugees, job seekers, children, young professionals, seniors, and families alike.
PGCMLS’ robust online offerings include curated content collections for kids, teens, educators, Spanish speakers, and more. Virtual events and outreach provide access to the Library from the comfort of home or on the go. Special programs include the D.R.E.A.M. Lab, STEM Pals, and 3D printing, which offer teens and lifelong learners with opportunities to learn cutting-edge technology and STEM skills for job readiness or personal enrichment. The Library also provides drive-up WiFi access at all branches and mobile hotspot devices. The Library’s Laurel Branch Library received the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Award and was designated the best new public building in Maryland.
As a strong community partner, the Library regularly collaborates with local government agencies and non-profit organizations to provide access to essential community services and programs. Partners include the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, Employ Prince George’s, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and Prince George’s Community College. Learn more at pgcmls.info or by visiting the Largo-Kettering Branch at 9601 Capital Lane, Largo, MD 20774.
About the PGCMLS Foundation
The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) Foundation provides critical philanthropic support to the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. It strengthens the Library’s capacity to innovate, adapt to change, and ensure our libraries remain a vital resource for all in Prince George’s County now and in the future. Our libraries are more than a place to find books; they are spaces–both physical and online–to empower individuals, strengthen families, and make our county a better place.