Mobile Wifi Hotspots

I’m getting ready to kick off a few of my new outreach projects this Spring, including roving business reference and a book bike. The one common thread with all of these projects is the WiFi issue. I want to be able to do reference and borrowing services on site no matter where in town I am.

Currently, the library uses Comcast for internet services. While Comcast has some hotspots throughout town (train stations), I’ve found that it’s not always reliable. It seems to go in and out often, and I wonder if this has to do with the volume of use. Some local businesses offer WiFi, too, but I’d prefer to use both of these free services as backups to a personally controlled device.

It took a few searches to come up with the appropriate keywords. It appears that what I’m looking for is a “MiFi,” and Novatel’s device was “Editor’s Choice” a few years back: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385018,00.asp

xfinity MiFi

xfinity MiFi

According to some articles published in 2011, Comcast only charges $25 for the device. Naturally, a search of their site doesn’t show any pages with purchase details. When I chatted with a rep, she said that Comcast still has the MiFi. I can find it by looking on “comcast.net.” Ha. I didn’t have time to ask for a direct webpage and signed off. I plan to look more into the costs, etc. after the holidays.

Here’s to 2015 being the year of fun, busy, effective outreach!

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It’s ok to ask for help

10396270_10152099290792711_2599338314054000022_nOverheard a couple arguing this week in front of me. The guy was saying that they could just use Google and didn’t need to swing by the Reference Desk; the woman disagreed. I told him that it’s true if you’re looking up a phone number or some basic information. If he’s doing research, I reminded him that anyone can publish something online and that my job is to help evaluate the good from the BS.

The man signed onto a computer to search while the woman let me look up information on a medical procedure. Guess who found reliable, relevant information while someone else was still browsing around the .coms?

Yes, accessibility to information has become more widespread, and yes, we’re in a do-it-yourself culture. But at what point will this attitude start to dismantle our ability to form a community?