Toronto Public Library Gets It Wrong

Toronto Public Library – the main branch has finally caught up with the sticks … the smaller libraries in towns like Hastings, Warkworth, Campbellford, and Port Hope which have been offering free Wifi connections to the Internet for the past year or two.
Now as a TO tax paying beggar, I know I should not be looking at a gift horse in the mouth. But …..
The Toronto Public Library has managed to do WifI wrong … frustratingly wrong for its users.

The simple problem is that the TPL has the WiFi service interrupt you every half hour to remind you that the Library is graciously providing you with this service. Fine a bit of a nuisance – no harm done. I wish.

In fact the interruption is extremely disruptive, if you are in the midst of writing an email, buying a book, or doing a Google spreadsheet you are completely cutoff, disrupted – this reminder message of pro bono service is as good as pulling the plug on your computer – everything is lost. I know because the blog posting I was just working on is somewhere lost in the ether.

Now here is a hint to the TPL IT honchos. Take another look at the sticks. Those libraries have at most a welcome message – after that they leave users and our Wifi sessions completely alone.

It is a good policy.

  1 comment for “Toronto Public Library Gets It Wrong

  1. sgornall
    June 8, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Hi,

    We launched the wireless service at the Toronto Reference Library as a pilot project to help us figure out the best ways to operate the service before we expand it to other library branches.

    When we launched the service, we had no idea what the demand was going to be like. (In fact, that was one thing we wanted to evaluate.) The Reference Library can be very busy, and we worried about people getting frustrated if they could never sign on because the maximum number of simultaneous users had already been reached. The interruptions at regular intervals are intended to give more people a chance to connect to the wireless service. Otherwise, some people might stay connected all day, and others would never be able to connect.

    If you make a page request during the last 5 minutes of your session, you’ll get a warning message that gives you the opportunity to continue without interruption – but if you happen to be doing something like composing an email or blog entry, which doesn’t involve sending any requests from the browser, unfortunately, there’s no warning. I’m really sorry to hear that you lost some of your work.

    We’re evaluating the pilot project right now, so it’s a perfect time to get feedback like yours. We’ll be looking at all the options we have to improve the service while still making sure we provide equitable access.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Sandra Gornall
    Services Specialist, Electronic Resources
    Toronto Public Library

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