Nashville, Tenn., has 600 computers in its Metro library system and waiting lines: Adding Wi-Fi is a natural for their patrons who can bring their own laptops. The system will cost just under $70,000 across the system through 50-50 federal and local money.
The AP reports on an library study showing 99.6 percent of libraries connected to the Internet: Almost of those offer Internet access to their patrons. This number from the American Library Association is up from 20.9 percent in 1994, when the commercial Internet was brand-spanking new. (I founded a Web site development firm in 1994, and had a T-1 to the Net that August--when it was pretty rare.) Eighteen percent of libraries offer Wi-Fi, but a whopping 21 percent plan to offer it in the next year. Only 42 percent of libraries have high-speed connections, and often broadband is coupled with Wi-Fi: sharing a single dial-up modem over Wi-Fi isn't much of an incentive over home dial-up to library patrons. Public libraries' biggest problem is having enough computers to go around.