Augusta County Library branches offer free Internet service

Augusta County Library 2By Lynn R. Mitchell

Unable to access Internet in their rural homes, many Augusta County residents have resorted to the Augusta County Library where free WiFi connections are available at the five locations — Fishersville, Middlebrook, Churchville, Craigsville, and Deerfield.

A feature article in Sunday’s News Leader highlighted the difficulties faced by those who live in the scenic yet electronically remote areas of the county (see Dead zones: Cell, Internet service woes by Megan Williams):

For miles and miles in Deerfield, Raphine, Churchville and other pockets of Augusta County, you can look down at your cell phone and see “no service” displayed. Hundreds of people live in areas where they must still rely on landlines to make calls. Whether if it’s because of safety concerns, limitations to jobs or just social inconveniences, the lack of cell service in areas of the county is a concern to many of its residents.

And although almost every location has some access to the Internet, the path to it can sometimes be difficult, involve lag or slower speeds and higher costs.

For many, home is in the middle of a dead zone.

The article was eye-opening to some but common knowledge to others so it provided the opportunity to submit a letter to the editor to highlight the availability of Internet through the library branches (see Augusta libraries provide Internet service):

In the Feb. 8 article “Dead zones: Cell, Internet service woes,” it was interesting to see the attention placed on the many areas of Augusta County that are not Internet or cell phone friendly. The feature story highlighted the Augusta County Library’s ability to provide Internet for those who have difficulty or are unable to access it in their rural homes.

The library is more than just books. One of its more popular services is the WiFi capability that is available at the five locations in Fishersville, Middlebrook, Churchville, Craigsville and Deerfield. This technology is a free service provided to the community.

Walk into the main Fishersville library and you may notice the chairs and tables filled with people using laptops, tablets, and smart phones. In addition, library staff regularly assist others in finding and applying for jobs, uploading resumes, filing forms and even learning how to use their new cell phones.

Some area residents depend on this vital link for communication, research, and downloading files with large amounts of data. In January, the library logged 2,214 users of their Internet service, and that does not include those who sit in the parking lot and access it from their vehicles.

The Augusta County Library offers Internet services and much more. Check us out at AugustaCountyLibrary.org.

LYNN R. MITCHELL
Staunton

The writer is vice chairman of the Augusta County Library Board.

Internet availability is as close as your nearest Augusta County Library branch and, if unsure of how to go about using the system, members of the library staff are always happy to help. The library is not just about books anymore.

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