September 27, 2015; Times Herald (Port Huron, MI)

NPQ is always interested in the changes libraries make to serve their patrons better. In St. Clair County, Michigan, the library system has decided to stop shutting off its high-speed wireless Internet at closing time, granting cardholders at its 11 branches access so long as they are on building grounds. Patrons can continue working on the system past closing time, when they would normally be rushed along. Of course, patrons will then need to figure out where the signal is best and, as the seasons change, how to stay warm, but “We’ve got very good service. All we needed to do was take that step and turn the Wi-Fi on all the time,” said Allison Arnold, executive director.

If the service is popular, the library could make use of antennas to improve the range. Still, this low-cost option is a first step for the price-conscious network and library patrons without Internet access.

“Our hope is we’re reaching more community residents and the libraries’ use and value would be increased,” Arnold said. “We know typically library hours don’t always fit into all of the patrons’ schedules who would want to use library databases, websites, and references resources.”—Ruth McCambridge