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Browsing in the stacks

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For all of you laptop-toting Burlingtonians looking for free Internet access downtown, the Fletcher Free Library has just made its entire building into a wi-fi hotspot.

This is really cool, because there aren't many institutions within easy walking distance of City Hall that offer free wireless. There are, of course, several cafés and eateries downtown that offer it for patrons, and I'm usually happy to support businesses that have it, but being able to surf sans the obligation to buy something certainly has its merits.

Actually, you don't have to live within city limits to use the 12 desktop machines in the Fletcher Free's Computer Center — you just need to apply for a free Computer Center User card, which lets you log on but doesn't include the ability to check out library materials. No word on whether you need one of these dealies to actually get on the wireless network, but the press release seems to indicate that anyone who has a wireless-enabled laptop is welcome. You just need to establish a free account with your e-mail address and a password of your choosing. One thing to be aware of, though, is that unlike the hardwired terminals, which are monitored visually by reference librarians, the wireless network is subject to a filter program. For details, see the Fletcher Free's wi-fi access agreement and its general policy on Internet use.

Adelphia donated the library's internet connection. I wonder how much heat, if any, they're feeling from Burlington Telecom's launch?

UPDATE: Jessamyn noted that the wi-fi network's been up for a while, so I called Systems Librarian Robert Coleburn to get details. He said they've actually had it up and running for about 3 months, but after taking some time to work out bugs, etc. (hopefully including some of the filter issues Jessamyn mentioned in her comment), they're just now getting around to really promoting it. Hence the press release.

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