Wireless Internet service fires up at local library

By Justin Boron

Tawanda McLaurin usually runs her management training business from home.

But recently the 34-year-old entrepreneur found a way to expand her personal business so she can escape distractions at her house, locate her office in a quiet space, and accommodate her customers faster. The most appealing part - all of it has come without the price of a lease, office furniture, or hiring new employees.

Who's footing the bill? The public library.

During the day, McLaurin said she can run her online business, etraining4U.com, from the Clayton County Headquarters Library, where a recently launched wireless Internet network has enabled her to set up shop in the solitude provided by dutiful librarians. The Internet signal also is much faster than her dial-up connection at home, she said.

The wireless option, which cost about $2,900 to implement, is free to anyone who has a wireless card and a laptop. The card's price range from $40 to $80 at most computer and electronic stores.

Carol Stewart, the director of library services in Clayton County, said the demand for the new service has been around for a long time.

“We have had many, many requests over the past four years for wireless access,” she said.

The Lovejoy Branch Library also has wireless access, but the other locations are still in the works, Stewart said. How soon they will get the technology depends on whether their application for more funds is approved, she said.

The wireless addition is part of a round of past and future technological improvements that Stewart said need to be made to keep up with the changing habits of their patrons.

In the three months prior to October, the library system recorded 90,200 uses of its computers.

Stewart said hopefully, the wireless will help alleviate the waits for computer terminals that stay occupied all day.

All six locations of the library system provide computers with Internet access, word processing, database and power point software, children's educational games, and black and white and color printers.

The move toward technology won't completely obsolesce the library's traditional purpose, providing books, Stewart said.

“I see libraries doing both for at least the next 20 years,” she said.

For more information on the wireless service contact Headquarters Library at (770)-473-3850 or the Lovejoy Branch Library at (770)-472-8129.