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Free Wireless Access

Free wireless Internet access points or "hot spots" are now available at all libraries. Wireless Internet access uses radio frequency signals to move information between your laptop computer and the Internet. No cables are required. This allows you to bring in your own computer and get Internet access. 

The Tacoma Public Library is providing wireless access as a public service. All wireless internet access passes through the Tacoma Public Library's content filters and the Library reserves the right to restrict access to web sites identified by the filtering software as being of a sexually explicit nature.

FAQ's About Using the Library Wireless Network

Q. How does it work?
A. Wireless Internet (or "Wi-Fi") access points located throughout the library communicate with your wireless device. You should be able to connect almost anywhere in the building. When your wireless network card senses a signal, a message may appear on your screen indicating a wireless network is available. Open your web browser. If your laptop does not have wireless built-in, you can install a Wi-Fi compatible network card. The Library cannot guarantee your equipment will work with the Library's network.

Q. Will I need any special settings or passwords to connect?
A. No special encryption settings, user names or passwords are required. Use the SSID of TPL and turn web encryption off.  The Library supports both 802.11b and 802.11g wireless networking specifications.  Some settings which may help are:
 SSID or Network Name: TPL
 WEP: disabled
 IP or Network Settings:

 DHCP enabled (or) obtain IP address automatically

 DNS: obtain DNS automatically
 Network Mode: Infrastructure (or) Access point

Q. Is my information safe while using wireless?
A. Your information is not protected while using wireless, unless you are connected to a web page that employs encryption (stores, banks, etc.). Keep this in mind if you are accessing sensitive business or personal information.

Q. Are there any restrictions on my use of the Internet?
A. Wireless users agree to abide by the Library's Internet Use Policy & Guidelines, which prohibits abusive or illegal activity while using the Library's Internet service. The Library assumes no responsibility for the safety of equipment or for laptop configurations, security, or data files resulting from connection to the Library's network. Only web browsing is available via our wireless connection. Services other than http/https, such as telnet, secure shell, etc. are not supported.  There is no charge to connect to wireless access at the Library.

Q.  Is the library's wireless network secured?
A.  No, the Library's wireless network is not secure. Any information you enter or display, including e-mail, can be captured by anyone with a wireless device and the appropriate software within several hundred feet. The Library strongly urges you not to enter passwords, PIN numbers, account numbers or other private information while using the wireless network, and cautions that using the wireless network for e-mail may allow other people to read your e-mail. Use web based e-mail that employs encrypted (https) access if you absolutely must use e-mail.

Q. What else should I know about using the Library's hotspots?

  • The Library has a limited number of public tables and seating, and not all seating is within easy reach of electrical outlets. Be prepared for your computer to be self-powered. Do not block or cross aisles or floors with extension or power cords.  Your power cord cannot constitute a trip hazard or otherwise block access for Library patrons or staff.  Please do not move chairs or tables to electrical outlets.
  • Turn off any audible sound if you use your laptop computers in the Library, or use headphones.  The Library does not provide headphones.
  • Signal strength and performance will vary within the Library depending on the location of the equipment that produces the radio signals, so some areas of our buildings may not have wireless service or may have slower internet service.
  • Although the wireless internet service is usually available, it is not guaranteed and during times of high use or technical problems the wireless service may not be available.

Q. Are there any software requirements?
Use a web browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape or Safari. The latest version of these browsers will work best for Internet display. The Library has spyware and virus filters in place, but you are urged to use the latest versions of spyware protection and/or a personal firewall software while using the Library's wireless connection.

Q. How fast is the wireless connection at the Library?
A. Each branch Library has either a 1.5 megabits T-1 or a 3 megabits (dual T-1) circuit to the Internet, and shares a 10 megabits aggregate bandwidth.  Connection speeds will fluctuate due to varying levels of use at different times of the day, and your proximity to wireless access points and signal strength may have some impact on connection speed. 

Q. Can the library help me configure my computer?
A. Sorry, everyone's computer is different and you are responsible for knowing how to configure your own equipment.  Library staff cannot provide technical assistance or help you configure your notebook.  Please consult your user's manual, or contact your hardware or software provider for any additional assistance.  Each location has a brochure available that addresses some basic troubleshooting techniques.  The trouble shooting handout is available as a PDF file.


Last Updated 30.01.2014
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Tacoma Public Library · 1102 Tacoma Ave. South · Tacoma, Washington 98402 · 253.292.2001
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