Wireless FAQ Print Email

What is wireless? (Wi-Fi, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g)

Wireless Internet access uses radio frequency signals to exchange information between your computer and the Internet.

No network cables are required. It’s a good idea to have battery power sufficient to sustain your device through your session, as we cannot guarantee that power outlets will be available for use.

Why do you have wireless computers?

Wireless allows library users to bring their own computers to the library and to get Internet access.

How do I use wireless at the library?

The Whatcom County Library System uses the WiFi standard (also known as IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g). These standards provide up to 54 megabits/second connection speed. Speed will vary by location and number of users.

You will need to bring your own laptop computer to the library and it will need to have built-in WiFi or you will need to install a WiFi network card. The Library does not provide wireless cards.

Most WiFi equipment will be compatible. However, the library can make no guarantees as to compatibility of your equipment with the library's network.

Printers are not available to wireless users in the library.

Will I need any special settings or passwords to connect?

No, the library's patron wireless network is open to all visitors.

No special encryption settings, user names, nor passwords are required.

Since I’m using my own equipment, do the general Library rules about computer use still apply to me?

Yes – you still cannot disrupt other patrons as described in the Whatcom County Library System Policies. Any activities deemed illegal apply to you whether or not you are on a Library-owned computer or your own computer. Furthermore, security hardware and software will disconnect you temporarily or permanently from the entire wireless network if you attempt to circumvent standard procedures and protocols, or attempt to access or manipulate equipment to which you are not authorized to connect. Any illegal activity will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Does the Whatcom County Library System provide filtering on its wireless network?

Due to staffing priorities and budgetary constraints, WCLS cannot provide filtering on its wireless internet service. (Filtering is available on our WCLS-Owned public internet stations. See Staff for details)

Users of WCLS wireless service are responsible for their use of the internet. WCLS is not responsible for minor’s use of their own equipment. Parents, guardians, and care-givers are responsible for their children’s use of the internet. Users must comply with the Rules and Policies of the Whatcom County Library System at all times.

Can the library help me configure my computer?

No - everyone's computer is different and you are responsible for knowing how to configure your own equipment.

The Whatcom County Library System cannot be responsible for any changes you make to your computer's settings.

If you need additional assistance, you may need to contact the manufacturers of your hardware or software. The Library Staff cannot provide any help beyond this FAQ page.

What about virus protection and security?

It is solely the responsibility of the wireless device owner/user to provide anti-virus protection, and to configure their laptop/PDA settings to provide the appropriate security settings to control access from other wireless devices within the Library and the internet itself. The Whatcom County Library cannot and will not take responsibility for damages incurred for incorrect, insufficient or incomplete security settings; or lack of adequate or up-to-date virus protection. Wireless users assume all risks in this regard.

How Safe is WiFi?

The Internet is a public communications network, which means that there can be untrustworthy parties between you and anybody with whom you communicate. WiFi unplugs the Internet and makes personal security risks more visible. WiFi poses the same risks to your personal information that a wired network poses, as well as some new risks. WiFi users need to educate themselves about these risks, and take steps to secure their personal information. Cautious WiFi users may choose not to transmit their credit card information and passwords while using any WiFi "hotspot", including the Library's. The Library cannot assure the safety of your data when you use either our wired or wireless Internet access.

What hours is wireless access available?

Wireless access is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The library will take practical and feasible steps to provide privacy for internet users and to limit inadvertent viewing by other library patrons. However, the library cannot guarantee privacy and will not be responsible for inadvertent exposure to materials that may be offensive, nor for any unauthorized disclosure, use, or dissemination of personal identification.

The library is a public place. Be aware that what you are viewing may be seen by others.

The FBI may obtain user data by following the procedures of the USA PATRIOT ACT.