Friday, June 20, 2008

Has Annalee Ever Seen the Inside of a Public Library Lately?

Naperville (IL) Public Library

Link to June 20 AlterNet post, "Myths About the Internet That Refuse to Die", by Annalee Newitz.

The myths the author hopes will soon be put to rest.
1. The Internet is free.
2. The Internet knows no boundaries.
3. The Internet is full of danger.

She loses points with the following statement: You can get a few free minutes online in your local public library, maybe, [my emphasis] and set up a Web site using a free service (if the library's filtering software allows that). But will you be able to catch anyone's attention if you publish under those constraints?

"A few free minutes"?

Just the other day, we received a written comment from "Anonymous", who accused us of being "naive" to let people "essentially use your computers all day." The question that immediately leapt into my mind: How do you know who's hangin' out at the library all day?

(The Middleton Public Library limits computer use to 30 minutes only when our 27 public-access stations are in use. We also provide 4 laptops to check out for in-library use. Two years of sampling have consistently shown us that the average time spent at a computer is 35 minutes. And the impact on "bumping" is minimal.)

2 comments:

Sarah Hartman said...

Thursday night at closing, a patron suggested that the library make money by charging people a dollar per minute after closing to use the Internet. I told her I didn't want to stay all night. :)

Susan Greenwood said...

Paul,
Thanks so much for mentioning us (the Naperville Public Library) and showing a photo of one of our computer labs. These labs are very popular with our residents and we do allow 4 hours of access to people who live within the city limits. Non card holders are limited to 30 minutes. We find that the longer online times are very helpful to jobseekers.
Susan Greenwood
Naperville Public Library