Wireless Nodes of Thought

Wireless Nodes of Thought.

One of the things I really like about Michael Stephens' Tame the Web site is that he provides firsthand reports about the implementation, maintenance, and discussions of technology in his Library. While at PLA, Michael shares his thoughts about public librarians and technology, expressing the need for us to get unwired.

Elsewhere, Aaron Schmidt provides a similar service by writing up recent experiences with the wireless network at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library. Emphasis below is mine, and I'll note that TFML is a relatively small library surrounded by many larger ones in neighboring suburbs. Be sure to read the whole thing.

Wireless and My Library

“I wasn’t quite aware how popular our wireless network was until it ceased to operate correctly. The problem was simple enough, but it took about a week to correct. In this period of time I was called upon many times to help people connect their laptops to the network. To tell them that they wouldn’t be able to connect for a week was a gut wrenching experience. I was the driving force behind the implementation of the network at the library, and I knew having to turn people away wasn’t helping the success of the project. However, people seemed very understanding, especially when I offered them a wired connection with speed well beyond their DSLs at home. I recorded the phone numbers of the people I had to turn away, and called them once the network was again up and running. While statistics haven’t been formally kept yet, I think the estimate of 2-4 people per day using the wireless network is a very conservative one. I’m only at the library a portion of the time it is open, and only in the public areas a portion of that time. It is likely that more people are using it than I’ve seen.

People have been using the wireless network for a variety of different reasons, and in a variety of different ways. Some people use it as a backup for when their connection at home is down, others are starting to depend on it. One patron decided to buy a laptop with 802.11g capability and cancel her home ISP upon hearing about the wireless network at the library. While she often used the wired connection in the library, it wasn’t until the wireless network was implemented that she decided to cancel her Internet service at home. Perhaps this is because of how convenient network can be. The patrons, as of now, use it on their terms, wherever they are comfortable in the library, and have all of their programs and files….

There is one thing subtle but neat thing about the wireless network that any library with one can do: brand your network. Instead of having generic names for your SSIDs, or even ones that read 'Circ,' 'Reference,' etc…, brand them with your library’s name. Ours read, 'Thomas Ford Youth Services,' 'Thomas Ford Reference,' etc…” [LISNews.com]

Both Michael's and Aaron's posts dovetail nicely on the topic of “teaching moments,” too. [The Shifted Librarian]

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