The roughly 255 daily visitors of the Ramonita de Rodriguez Library primarily come for the free Internet access, PlanPhilly reported.
The story points to the fact that libraries are frequently-used public computing centers. As community staples, libraries are able to skip over the challenges that KEYSPOT, the city’s public computing center network, might have had to face in getting the word out about its centers.
The most common request for Internet-related help is with opening a Facebook account, said one librarian who works at the Ramonita de Rodriguez library on West Girard Avenue near 6th Street.
More than 300,000 Philadelphians have visited the city’s 81 KEYSPOT public computing centers that have opened over the last two years, but city’s libraries have a few advantages over the KEYSPOT centers when it comes to accessibility:
- They’re open more frequently. For example, the Ramonita de Rodriguez Library is open five days a week from roughly 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as opposed to the nearby KEYSPOT in the Drueding Center, which is open three days a week from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- It’s easier to find out when a library is open (which also means its computers are available). Since many of the KEYSPOT centers are only open part-time, it’s crucial for potential KEYSPOT users to know that schedule. But the KEYSPOT website only lists operating hours for a handful of centers, and partners that manage the computing centers don’t often have operating hours posted. Your best bet is to call the center, but even then, if they don’t pick up, you’re out of luck.
- A neighborhood staple, it’s often common knowledge that libraries offer Internet access. Since the KEYSPOT centers were only launched two years ago in various rec centers and civic organization headquarters, one of the program’s challenges was to grow its visibility and get the word out about the free Internet access it provided.
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