Last August I wrote about a “WTH?” moment at a public library that doesn’t allow people to use library computers on Sundays. (I figure that “wth” isn’t as offensive as “wtf”, but you get my drift.) The saga continues.
For those of you with family or friends battling mental illness, you know how often those individuals are without identification or a “permanent” address. ID is lost, stolen, left in a knapsack at a shelter – whatever. You also know that most social services are accessible only through the web. Many of these individuals don’t have phones and a payphone is hard to find these days, as is are the coins or phone cards to make them work. So, quite often we equip our family members with an old laptop for them to use at the public library to access social services, email, etc. Elated to have the laptop so that they are not “kicked off” the public library computer after their allotted time, the individual attempts to access the public library wifi. Alas — no identification of a permanent address? Well then, no wifi.
Many public libraries have updated their policies regarding this, and to those libraries I say “congratulations and thank you for recognizing your role in making a positive difference in someone’s life.” To those public libraries that still require identification of permanent address to access your library’s wifi I say “wifi is a tool with which to access resources; it can’t be stolen or damaged.”
How sad that I have to send those with their used, old laptops to MacDonalds for free wifi (and an affordable cup of coffee) to access the web for social services and job hunting. MacDonalds, unlike the public library, doesn’t demand ID or a permanent address. Sometimes the library’s policies speak louder than the mission statement.