Having computer access and reliable internet is a necessity for nearly all aspects of life — applying for jobs, filing taxes, even going to school or work — and it can be challenging if you live in a household without a computer and internet. In Philadelphia, this is a reality for many.
According to recent Census Bureau statistics, Philadelphia ranks as having the fourth-highest percentage of households without internet access out of the country’s largest cities — meaning more than 98,000 homes don’t have access.
“Even prior to the pandemic, in order to apply for a housekeeping job at area hotels, you needed to apply online … What were people [without computer access] to do?” says Lori Morse, a library supervisor at the Parkway Central Library.
In Philly, there are programs designed to help, including at community centers and libraries, and programs where you can get a computer, or internet access, for free.
Here’s where you can use a computer for free in Philadelphia and some programs to get a free computer of your own.
You can use a computer with internet access at any Free Library of Philadelphia branch if you have a library card. Most libraries even offer printing and copying services at 25 cents per page. Anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in Philly can get a library card at no cost. Additionally, Pennsylvania residents can get a Philadelphia library card. You can sign up for a card online, or go to your nearest branch to have a librarian help you sign up. Check out our guide to all the things your library card gets you. The full list of Free Library locations is available here.
If you’re looking for a job, trying to start a business, or find a new career, the Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC) offers a variety of services and learning opportunities, such as career workshops, job