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Providing Wi-Fi In Libraries

Nowadays, public libraries are being increasingly equipped with computer stations, printers and cable internet access.

However, the growing use of tablets, laptops, devices for e-book reading, smartphones and computers makes it necessary to provide internet access also through Wi-Fi.

Nevertheless, considering the high costs of professional routers, hotspot services, together with the limited budget public administrations rely on, it is often hard to implement a stable and reliable Wi-Fi network.

In some cases, Wi-Fi availability in public places has been so reduced that users only have one hour of free connection available. In other cases, the internet connection speed in these locations is limited, so as to avoid heavy data consumption.

However, these solutions aren’t effective nor for the Wi-Fi, not the public administrations offering the service. However, nowadays, some libraries in central Italy have started to provide Wi-Fi through Tanaza Classic, an affordable and reliable solution in line with their municipal budget.

The Deployment

The first library to adopt the Wi-Fi service offered by Tanaza Classic is located in a historical building, where it’s been necessary to minimize the wiring work. Accordingly, three Ubiquiti indoor AC access points were positioned in the central hall, which contains books, periodicals and study desks. These ceiling-mounted devices have been deployed without needing any masonry work.

The computer rooms, which have 9 fixed places for PC, have been equipped with an Engenius ESR1750 device providing both wired and wireless connectivity. In addition, two outdoor Engenius ENH500 devices have been deployed to cover the area adjacent to the entrance, which is a small public garden equipped with study desks, benches, a relaxation area and a playground for children.

Internet Access

The libraries’ equipment, such as the printers, the computers for the staff and the public PC stations are connected to the internet through cable.
However, a password-protected SSID is also available appositely for the staff under the name “Staff – Library”.
Guest access, instead, can be enabled through the captive portal “Users – Library” of the network, through one of the following methods:

  • A form that requires the provision of a name, surname and email address
  • Users’ Facebook accounts,through which the library can collect users’ names, surnames and email addresses
  • User authentication through coupons, which consists of selecting the option “I joined the library” and adding the code on one’s personal card.

In all these cases, users can navigate for free with no time limit.
Thanks to this system, the IT manager of the library recognises existing library clients from new ones, who used the Wi-Fi service through a specific first-time registration process.

Internet Usage

The library chose to add some websites to the “Walled Garden”, a list of websites that users can visit even without providing their personal data.
This leads to limited internet surfing, as only a selected number of pages are available, allowing all users in the library to access only the basic services with no authentication required.
In detail, the library chose to make the surfing of the following content available to all users:

  • The catalogue of all books and periodicals of the library
  • The municipal website, with information for citizens
  • The local pro-loco portal, which contains useful information for tourists.

Content Filtering

The library is equipped with a small playground for children, containing books and games for them. The “Kids” room is widely attended by toddlers often accompanied by their parents, relatives and babysitters. The setup of an access point in this room was deemed not necessary.

Nevertheless, as suggested by Tanaza Classic, the library configured a web content filtering system on its whole network, so as to guarantee a safe web surfing to all users.

Thanks to its content filtering tool, the library can block the surfing of inappropriate websites on the whole network, pornographic content, betting websites, and malware sites, in particular.

Extension Of The Service

So far, the Wi-Fi service has been installed only in three libraries within the province, but the municipalities being part of the project aim at extending the wireless connectivity service to other public places in the next months, particularly in parks, public offices, armed forces offices, hospitals and centres of social aggregation.

In order to execute these initiatives, the public bodies involved in the project rely on the possibility of using public funds, provided either at a national or European level.