Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New signup procedures at our public computers

Over the past few months we have been changing the policies by which you can sign up to use our public computers. There have been a few bumps in the road but we're finally getting a solid grip on the new procedures. For years the library has had a number of computers that can be used by the public for Internet, email, word processing, research, or even games. At present here are 15 of these computers, but there are still times when they are all in use and it can be quite chaotic. We average over 2300 signups per month, and it usually gets busier and busier very month.

In an effort to try and better control the signup process we purchased and installed some time-control software. Now when you sign up you'll need to obtain a numbered pass code from the library staff. We have codes that will allow 20 minutes or 60 minutes of computer time before shutting you down and freeing the computer up for someone else. If no one else is waiting you can usually sign up for an additional period of time, but we do restrict the 60-minute computers
to one use per day between the busy after-school hours of 2 to 6 pm.

In order to use the 60-minute computers you need to have a valid Hampton library card and be in good standing (no overdues, fines, etc.) The 20-minute computers, on the other hand, can be used by anyone whether they have a library card or not. This is to accommodate the large influx of tourists that come to our shores, as well as many of the young foreign workers that come here in the summer. But many library cardholders choose to use the 20-minute computers as well when they only want to check their email quickly.

When you enter your six-digit pass code into the computer a timer box will pop up telling you how much time you have (either 20 or 60 minutes). The timer will remain on the screen unless you click the little dash button to minimize it and move it out of sight. When there are only a few minutes left the timer will pop back up onto the screen to alert you that you'd better finish writing that email or save your work before your time runs out and the timer locks you out.
If you finish before your time is up be sure to click the logout button on the timer so that the computer will be ready for the next person.

The library also offers wired and wireless access to people who bring in their own laptops, although not dial-up modem access. There are no time restrictions on using your own computer aside from the hours that the library is open, although with wireless, if you choose, you can work from the front seat of your car in the library parking lot in the middle of the night!

Bill Teschek


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