Thursday, August 22, 2019

Public library Wi-Fi service: Good for patrons, good for YOU!

photo of girl using tablet in library with bar charts and graphs super imposed around her


Public library Wi-Fi service opens the library to a whole new population of users who come to the library for Internet access on their own devices. Increased visits lead to an increase in usage of other services including circulation and program attendance. Bonus!

Here are a few pointers to help you make the most of your library’s public Wi-Fi:

Get the word out


  • Be sure to provide Wi-Fi signage on your entrance doors and throughout the library.
  • Feature free public Wi-Fi service on your library’s home page.
  • Send email reminders to local educators every school year.
  • Use local media to promote library Wi-Fi service.

Maximize accessibility


  • Provide adequate bandwidth and wireless network access points.
  • Have evening & weekend open hours that allow access for everybody.
  • Consider broadcasting the library wireless signal outside the library.
  • Consider making the library Wi-Fi available 24/7.

Get results


  • Use your library’s wireless usage stats to show community impact.
  • Use usage data to determine the best open hours for your library.
  • Build programs around patron devices like genealogy and ebooks trainings.
  • Set up comfortable spaces for visitors to use the library as a home office.

Last October, 35 South Dakota public libraries took part in a pilot program to try out a software product (WhoFi) that allows them to track usage on their public wireless networks. Some of us were surprised at how much use our library Wi-Fi gets. It’s a good reminder about how important public library Wi-Fi is to communities. If you’d like to add your public library to this program, contact Shawn [email] at the State Library.