Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) has enhanced drive-up WiFi service at four of its branches and a bookmobile stop. From the parking lots of public libraries in Deming, Everson, Ferndale and Sudden Valley as well as the Birch Bay bookmobile stop, community members will now find boosted WiFi signals that expand free public broadband internet service.
“When library buildings were closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we were concerned about the impact on patrons who rely on us for computer and internet access,” says Christine Perkins, executive director of the Whatcom County Library System. “As we thought about how we could support our community during this time, improved access to the internet was one of the solutions that rose to the top.”
WCLS’s 10 branches and bookmobile serve rural Whatcom County where access to the internet can be limited.
Community members use the library’s internet service to search and apply for jobs, to write and send emails, to attend online classes, to conduct research, and for entertainment. Equitable access to online resources is central to the library system’s mission.
In July, WCLS’s IT staff installed new WIFI routers and service extenders to improve service in Deming, Everson, Ferndale, Sudden Valley and Birch Bay. WiFi now extends beyond the library parking lots in many cases. At Birch Bay, the signal reaches the beach across the street from the bookmobile stop. In Ferndale, the best coverage is on the east side of the library building.
“We’ve always had public WiFi access from our parking lots, but in these locations the service was spotty,” Perkins says. “Enhancing the signals addresses a long-term need and provides a vital community service during this time.”
Drive-up WiFi service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week at all WCLS branches with two exceptions: Ferndale Library where the service is available between 6 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., and Everson McBeath Community Library where WiFi is available between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Community members do not need a library card to access the internet, but they may need a card to use WCLS’s digital content and resources. While library buildings remain closed, patrons who do not have wireless devices with them may check out and use library laptops for up to one hour per day in their personal vehicles or other spaces outside the library building. This service is limited due to laptop battery life and availability of equipment.
Other library services include curbside pickup of library materials, including to-go bags curated for patrons by library staff; printing services; and the Summer Reading program (wcls.org/summer).
For more information, call (360) 305-3600 or visit wcls.org/info.
Locations with improved WiFi service:
- Birch Bay Bookmobile Stop: 7968 Birch Bay Drive
- Deming Library: 5044 Mt. Baker Hwy
- Everson Library: 104 Kirsch Drive
- Ferndale Library: 2125 Main Street
- South Whatcom Library: 10 Barn View Court, Sudden Valley, Gate 2