Well that’s a lame-o title.
I needed to read through some of my students assignments last night. But of course, that was right around the same time that my internet decided to stop working. And stayed not working for a good 24 hours.
Five years ago, that would have been a problem for me. I would have needed to wait for the next day (and the AT&T technician). Or, I could have gone to a coffee shop or back to the library and their awesome wifi (we really do have awesome wifi).
Thankfully, it’s 2017 and I have a smartphone that lets me tether and use the cell phone signal to access the internet. It’s slower, but it also works. I got my class stuff done pretty much like normal, then went on with my evening (wifi came back on at 5pm the next day).
It struck me that there are multiple ways for me to access the internet. I have options, and have enough tech savvy that I can work aground an issue if needed. I even have a way to connect to the web on me at all times (my iPhone). Or any number of places to get wifi – coffee shops, the library, our local university, Walmart of all places, the mall, etc.
This also made me think just how important it is for libraries to offer some pretty basic services. Yes, having a bunch of books is a basic service of the library. It’s expected. How about wifi? I think that’s also a basic service in today’s modern library. It’s expected. And you need to budget accordingly. Today’s successful library can’t have “just ok” wifi, or wifi that doesn’t really work well (and yes, there are libraries that still don’t have adequate wifi).
I get it. Budgets are hard, and we aren’t always the ones who get to set, approve and pass the final budget. But we are the ones to advocate for it and for our customers.
So don’t just ask for better public internet and wifi. Ask for it, demand it, and back it up with usage numbers. Share data like how many people are using the service, how many are turned away, how often is the system at or over capacity, etc.
Also share stories – stories of customers having positive experiences using your library’s wifi service.
And make friends with the people who make those decisions. Turn them into advocates and champions for the library. Why? Because your customers need those basic services from you. They expect it. So work to meet those expectations.
Many of your customers depend on the library’s wifi to get stuff done these days. To connect with family, get a job, do research, etc. It’s important. Important enough to not simply offer it, but to do it well.
image by transCam