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The Adams Public Library recently reported that wireless usage in 2012 has more than doubled that of 2011. A more drastic increase was shown in the month of August — over 1,100 connections were made in comparison to only 346 in August of 2011.
Local library Director Kelly Ehinger noted in a news release that in all the local high schools, students have been issued iPads or laptops. More students are using the library’s services, but that does not account for all the increase. Because North Adams issued iPads in late August, the library expects to see an even greater increase in wireless usage in the month of September. South Adams students armed with laptops typically use the Geneva branch, which is also seeing an increase in overall usage.
Ehinger also reported that the library has increased its bandwidth twice in the last year and will likely be increasing bandwidth again this school year. She said, “Because computer and Internet access is a core service by public library standards and state rules, we are committed to staying ahead of the need. However, we continue to be concerned that a large percentage of students in Adams County do not live in the library district.”
The library provides access to e-government services such as BMV renewals, filing for unemployment, tax forms, and fishing license applications since the state of Indiana has been moving services online. In addition, many jobs now require online job applications, a difficulty for those without access to the Internet. The state agencies and many companies refer people to public libraries.
Library officials said they see the increased usage of wireless Internet access as yet another example of the need for countywide library service. G. Medford Smith, president of the board of trustees, said in a news release, “This library is committed to compliance with state library standards in providing ‘free’ Internet access as well as all library programming. However, we note that the service is offered to all in the community with no additional funding for those outside our district. The most reasonable way to make fair to the cities’ taxpayers – who pay for the ‘free’ service for all – would be to extend the district to all areas.”
President of the Friends of the Library RoxyAnn Casper, said in the news release, “Public does not mean free. Even when Andrew Carnegie donated funds for the building construction, he expected the city to provide a tax base to pay the staff and buy materials. Now city property owners and county [paid] card holders pay for staff, materials and Internet access for everyone’s benefit.”
Smith added, “Ideally, countywide service would ensure equal access and an equal share in financial support.”