Some of you expressed an interest in my experience transitioning from using home internet services to library internet services. So, this post covers my early experiences (and updates) transitioning from my home computer using AT&T Internet service to using free Internet service on library computers. There are two parts to this post, Part I and Part II. I will post Part II soon.
At the bottom of this post, I have added some important updates as I continued to use my library computers since April 8, 2014. It was a little bit rough in the beginning, but nothing that I (or you) couldn’t overcome. Change isn’t easy but it’s manageable. It’s helps to have an adventurous spirit!
But that doesn’t mean that I gladly accept every bump in the road that change brings! For example, on my second visit using the library’s computers, I forgot my list of passwords to get on certain websites. My passwords are so tough that I can’t remember them so I keep them on a Word document. I have a lot of passwords and I printed them out and slid the document into a sturdy, see-through, plastic sleeve. I was planning to take it with me every time I went to the library but on my second visit, I forgot it. Lots of cursing went on in my head. None of them out loud because I didn’t want to be kicked out of the library this early in the game! I tried to remember some of them. I sat there straining my brain. No go. The visit was almost a waste of time except for the audiobooks I was able to return and new ones I was able to pick up. Since the plastic sleeve is pretty big and it is unwieldy, I decided to put the password document on my Flash drive. So far, I haven’t forgotten my Flash drive. Problem solved. (More about a Flash drive below.)
The Expected Snafus
You have to expect some snafus in the beginning but you can definitely avoid most of them by reading my posts AND the articles I’ve written in the links below.
My library’s computers usually are all taken by 11:30 am at my branch. This means I have to leave the house by 10:15 the latest so I can get my favorite spot. (Some areas are drafty near a vent and I want to avoid them.) I need at least an hour to eat, get dressed, and be presentable. Usually, I can do that but not always. Hey, I’m retired. I don’t have to get up at 6:00 am anymore! Using the library computers in the mid or late afternoon hours when the library is less crowded renders the computers more accessible, but I prefer to do my computer work in the mornings. This is not a problem. Read on.
If no one is sitting at a computer and the computer screen says, Available, you can use that computer. You can also reserve a computer just like you can reserve a book or anything else at the library! Library card holders can stay on a computer for 1 hour and non-library card holders (guests) only 30 minutes before receiving a time notice. However, you are allowed 800 minutes per day.
Each computer is numbered. When you reserve a computer, which you do on a computer assigned for that purpose only, you get a small printout with the time the next computer is available, the date (that same day), and a computer number that is assigned to you. The first time I tried, the software didn’t bring up a field for me to scan my library card number. I simply asked the person in line behind me. I needed to double-click the scan gun. I had only single-clicked. Sometimes, double-clicking still doesn’t work. It’s finicky. Then I click the computer space bar. That worked. One of the two does the trick and the printout prints speedily. This is a small issue but sometimes enough small issues can become frustrating!
When you’ve found your reserved computer and used all your time allowed on it, the computer gives you a 10-minute warning beforehand. Then a little later you get a warning to save your work because you need to get off the computer for the next person who has reserved a computer. If no one has reserved your computer, you instead get 15-minute increments at a time and can stay on longer. Once I was on for three hours before I got bumped off. So, the fewer people on the computers, the longer you can stay on. This is nice. My son told me he used to stay on for eight hours at a time when he was looking for work! He used a different library branch that was less busy than mine.
On one visit to my library, I didn’t get any 15 minute increments after I used my 60 minutes. Instead I got the warning that my time was almost up. Someone had reserved a computer and mine was in the queue to be next. I had gotten most of my work done but I would have liked to do more. I could have easily reserved another computer and got the next one in the queue, but I didn’t want to wait around. On another library visit, I decided to reserve a computer and had to wait 10 minutes for my reserved computer to open up (for the person who was using it to leave). Anyway, the computer was ready before the 10 minutes were up because the person left that computer a little bit earlier than his time limit which is usually what happens.
On another visit I had trouble transferring a photo from my Flash drive to my blog. You are not permitted to put photos on the computer desktop of any of the computers and I couldn’t figure out how to transfer the photo. I asked the assistance of the reference librarian and she showed me how to do it, but it didn’t work. I realized that what she showed me made sense and told her I would try it again and she went on her merry way. Sure enough, when I tried it again, it worked. The reference librarians are always there to help and most of the time they can solve whatever issue you have.
Some Background About Me
I thought you might like to know some background information about me relating to computer work. I consider myself computer savvy so if you are thinking about canceling your Internet service as I did to use library Internet service instead, you may want to make some comparisons to your own computer experience. Several years ago, I had a part-time job similar to what these reference librarians do regarding computer help except that I was working at a university. My title was computer consultant and I helped students in a computer lab with their computer issues.
I also taught computer basics in these computer labs, such as how to use Word, Excel, email, ftp, how to use a PC and/or Mac computer, how to create a web page, and whatever else was asked of me. As they say, the best way to learn something is to teach it! Computers and software can be frustrating to learn. I supplied tissues to students who crumbled. People respond differently to the frustration: some cry, some become angry! Computers don’t seem to have a positive effect on people is/was my observation.
As far as my home computer, I’ve also taken apart my CPU and vacuumed it. I replaced my DVD-ROM drive, and I’ve replaced memory chips on a previous computer. I don’t let computers intimidate me. You shouldn’t either! I have even more of a background in computers but I think this is enough information for the time being. You don’t need to have as much background in computers as I had to transition to using library computers. It helps to have the confidence though. The way to get that confidence is to practice, ask for help, read about it, then do it. Most computer mistakes can be undone.
So far, you can see that this transition from home Internet service to library internet service not only calls for confidence but also some organization: leaving the house at certain times, moving password documents to a Flash drive, and probably more things that I haven’t realized yet (I cover them in the links below.) I can also foresee that I will need to have some kind of reminder or list of things that I need to work on when I get to the library. I can’t just leisurely work on whatever I feel like as I could when I was strictly using my home computer. I’ll need to do the most important things first. If I don’t, I may not get the chance to do them during that 60-minute time period, OR I’ll need to reserve a computer to have access to more time. The plus side is that I’ll get things done quicker. The minus side is that I will feel rushed and stressed. I’m feeling a little stressed already but some of that will pass when it all becomes routine. It’s just like starting a new job! These things are to be expected.
I have now had more than 15 visits using my library’s computers. I no longer feel stressed because now I am super organized. I’ve created a TO DO list and I explain how to use it in both of my articles, “10 Easy Steps Transitioning to Free Internet Service at Your Library” and, “10 Short-cuts Saving Time (and Money) on Your Library Computers.”
As I said above, I am planning another post soon. Part II will cover things you need to be aware of using your library’s computers and also some strange situations I have experienced! Both of the article links above contain valuable, time-saving and money-saving tips that would be worth your time to check out. I get my work done in half the time now! Let me know what you think of them. Also, let me know if you foresee any obstacles for you if you are thinking of making the transition. Happy surfing on your library’s computers and enjoy the time and money you’ve saved! Saved time and saved money is good for your health!