Open community access to wireless is no longer optional for quality library service

I had a peculiar experience today. A community patron called, asking if they could come to the Roane State Community College library to use our wireless to buy books for her 9 year old granddaughter’s Nook. She bought the Nook for her granddaughter because she loves to read, but the grandmother lacks the home internet access required to download eBooks.

She contacted a local public library and was informed that current policies do not allow community guests to access their wireless network with personally owned devices.

The grandmother contacted us to ask if we had freely available wireless access for guests. We do. I told her we would be glad to help her connect and purchase eBooks for her Nook. However, if she just needed free wireless access, she might consider McDonald’s as another convenient option.

She’s coming to visit us, and I am glad. It was a peculiar feeling to suggest that the local McDonald’s might be more conducive place to obtain eBooks than her local public library.

This is not a criticism of our local public libraries. They are doing the best they can with the resources at hand. Just a bit disorienting to ponder this one as a hint of what 21st century librarianship has become.

Open access to wireless internet is no longer an optional add-on for quality library service. Easy, reliable wireless access has become the backbone of everything we do.

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Note: This entry is cross-posted at TBR Mobile Libraries, a new blogging project I am sharing with other Tennessee Board of Regents librarians. That blog is focused primarily on TBR efforts to establish mobile-friendly library collections and services. Occassionally, posts there intersect with concerns of  Ubiquitous. Quotidian., which remains my own personal blog-child.

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