Should Public Libraries Charge For Internet Access?

from the what-to-do... dept

Libraries have become a great place for many people to get internet access when they don’t have other options. Some even point out that libraries have been one of the great resources in fighting the “digital divide.” So, it’s no surprise to find out people are angry that a library has decided to start charging for internet access. Admittedly, it’s relatively cheap ($1/hour), but some are questioning what sort of message it’s sending to patrons. The library claims that the costs of offering computers and access is just too high, and this was the only way to offset those costs. In reading about this, I’m reminded that I used to borrow movies from the library for free – but now they charge a small fee. Still, when confronted, the someone at the library said that if someone really couldn’t afford it, they’d make an exception.

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Comments on “Should Public Libraries Charge For Internet Access?”

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Jeff says:

Its not too high if you don't rely on Microsoft so

I could easily outfit my local library system with a Linux server and thin clients at a fraction of the cost of what they spend. But the local library’s IT director is a Microsoft fan. They even named the computer room after the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation since I’m sure they got funding from them for the computers.

Jason Cook says:

Re: Its not too high if you don't rely on Microsof

A library here hired me to set up that exact solution for them. I was able to leverage all of their aging pc’s as diskless clients with a $1,000 server running debian with a locked-down KDE environment.

Their daily administration tasks essentially dropped to nothing. They turned the clients on in the morning and turned them off at night. After an initial shakedown period, there hasn’t been a single support call.

I was also able to use the box as a firewall for the windows clients they used for admin stuff. In the end they were able to spend less than what it would have cost to replace all the windows machines and got an environment that made their lives simpler.

Oh, and these people wanted GNU/Linux. In my experience Librarians have grasped the concepts and benefits of Free Software better than any group I have come across

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