I was playing tennis one morning last week and one of the other women said her computer was not working. For assistance in these matters, she relies on the teenager who lives across the street. But he is on a trip and won’t be back until tomorrow and she needs/wants to check her email today.
I told her to go to the library and use one of the computers there. She looked at me skeptically, giving me that stare she uses when questioning a close line call. So, to put her at ease, I said I would go with her.
We went to the Vanderbilt Beach branch but all of the branches have public use computers. All libraries also have free wireless Internet, with the exception of Everglades City, but wireless will be there soon. I’ve even seen people using their own laptop outside the door of the Naples Regional Library on Central Avenue when the library was closed!
My friend has a library card, but about the only thing she does with it is borrow books and an occasional video. I mention this because you need to have a valid library card and fines less than $10 to use the computers, up to 90 minutes per day in 30-minute segments. No card? No problem! A guest pass is $5 for a 30-minute session. Or one can purchase a non-resident library card for $10, thereby getting all the perks of a regular card holder, including Internet use, books, videos, etc. for one month. What a deal.
Mary and I walked in and, because it is summer, all computers were not in use. During busy times, one goes to the reservation station for a short process. We sat down and got started by entering her library card number. (TIP: Although there may be a blank space between some of the numbers on your card, key all of the numbers without spaces. I made this mistake.) Next, the screen is filled with the computer use agreement along with two boxed options for accept or decline. We accepted in order to continue our session.
Up came a screen with a list of options along the left margin. We took the top one, Internet Explorer, but here’s the list we saw: Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Office Excel, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, Microsoft Office Publisher and Microsoft Office Word. I’m told one can print in black and white at 10 cents per page. (Before printing, I recommend using print preview.) Mary keyed in her Internet service provider and got to her email. Mission accomplished.
So let’s summarize what we have learned. There’s free Wi-Fi at the library and library card holders can access computers to use Microsoft Office Suite and the Internet — just another great resource available from the Collier County libraries. And, I forgot to tell you that the Friends of the Library group has supported the public use computers by funding the initial Internet capability and some of the public use computers.
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Carla Grieve is the District Two representative on the county’s Library Advisory Board and also a member of the board of the Friends of the Library. She took early retirement from IBM in 1992 and has been a full-time Collier County resident since 1994. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.