Wi-Fi at King Library: Not For You!


At dinner the other night in San Jose I met some very interesting, politically active San Jose residents. They had lived 1 block from me in the Mission in the 90s, then relocated to San Jose. As Chester pointed out in an earlier comment on an SJ post, yes, some people do desire to live in San Jose, when given a choice to life in SF! So my dinner companion shared this bit of information with me.

You know that great new King library on the SJSU campus, that is a combination of the Santa Clara County main library- MLK and the SJSU library? I had spent a lot of time at both when I was growing up, so I was really happy and excited about the new library. Well, he said, you can’t get on the Wi-Fi. SJSU students & faculty can, but not the public. Not much of a joint deal, is it?

Just checked on some facts, and yes, it’s true. San Jose, the Heart of the Silicon Valley — speaking of, can’t Cisco pony up something?– requires residents to use an Ethernet-cable to connect to a land line network. Yes, in their spacious, new, shames-SF library. And, he was saying, the chances of finding an Ethernet port that works is about as frequent as snow in downtown, which was in February of 1976- I was there!

Envision this: you have your lovely new black MacBook, made by a company in the same County (that won’t provide Wi-Fi for their library..) and you magically find a working Ethernet port, then what? You can only go to the card catalog system and, lovely, the San Jose city page (to complain, “My web don’t work!”). Sigh. SJ: get it together!

I wonder what the Shifted Librarian would say about a library that doesn’t allow their patrons into the vast research capabilities of the internet.

7 Comments so far

  1. Mark (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 2:58 pm

    Doesn’t surprise me. The same is true at UC-Berkeley: you need a student/faculty/staff to access their wi-fi. I don’t know what reason they give.


  2. Sooper HaX0r (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

    Could it be ucb etc dont want to provide an
    anonymous on-ramp to the information superhighway
    to lauch attacks, engage in piracy etc … it opens
    up a large amount of liability. you should be
    glad they dont provide anonymous wifi access.

    also some places may not have the resource to
    have their wireless networks be treated as only
    “semi-trusted”, so in that case it may defect some
    of the perimeter protection measures.


  3. wayan (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

    I went into that library the other night – apparently you need a library card (or some authorization) to use the computers, which might explain why there is no WiFi. They want to make sure they know who is using the Internet.

    On the same line, the Fairmont Hotel doesn’t have WiFI in the rooms – Ethernet cables there too – but it does have WiFi in the hotel bar.


  4. Lauren (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

    Why can I get wireless everwhere except in the “Capital of Silicon Valley”? Why?? Even Spokane, my little hometown that is about as low-tech as you can get, has free WiFi all throughout the downtown area.


  5. dan (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 2:05 am

    I hope someone asks the library to explain itself. And if they bring up security as an excuse, I hope they get laughed at, preferably right before they’re told to stop making things up.

    I can walk into the downtown Seattle library, flip open my laptop and connect to free wifi, no sign-in and no identification required. I can also do this in many airports (you know, the places where the OMG TERRORISTS are rumored to go) in the US and throughout the world. I can do this at any number of other venues wherever I travel. Security is a non-issue.

    It probably has more to do with the bureacrats in charge being cheap or not properly educated, though. Remember, this is local government we’re talking about here.


  6. Jenny Levine (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 7:51 am

    There is definitely something rotten on the campus of SJSU if this is the case. If they need to restrict access to residents and campus users, that is easily doable. Many libraries offer authenticated wireless and/or ethernet access.

    If this is a partnership between the public and academic libraries, then any taxpayer should be able to access the internet, not just faculty and students. Ideally access should be open to everyone, but some libraries are forced to limit access to taxpayers for political reasons.

    Before passing judgment, though, you should contact the library and ask about the reason for this policy. I can’t think of a reason to justify it, but I also don’t know the circumstances. You can use the form at http://www.sjlibrary.org/about/contacts/feedback.htm if you’re interested in pursuing it. I doubt it’s an issue of those holding the purse strings not being educated properly; it’s more likely political, which is something you can comment on as a taxpayer.


  7. Ryan (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

    I’m an SJSU grad student – here’s the secret to the ethernet connections in King Library: Look for connections with a green sticker near them. Those are the public connections, that anyone with a cable (or the good sense to unhook the cable from the other end of the plastic port) can connect to.

    The pink stickers are ports to plug in your rental laptop, and if you don’t see a sticker, just forget it. The ports in the big open spaces with giant windows do NOT work at all.

    When I reported on the new wireless network for the SJSU student newspaper, it was pretty clear that the University wasn’t going to pay Comcast for anything that would benefit the general public.

    Hence, a closed network, where even guest speakers need to mooch off a student’s login to get online.

    Heart of Silicon Valley and all that is just marketing-speak around these parts…



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