Wireless @ Your Library, FAQ:

WiFi Zone Logo (R) Registered Trademark

Why are we doing this?

Westlake Porter Public Library is offering free wireless Internet access for our patrons as another public service. Students find convenience in having their own computer at hand with the resources of the library all around them. Users are also able to access some resources, like World Book Online, previously reachable only through library-owned computers. Business people and travelers can receive and send email and connect with their office networks at high speed and without being tethered to the wall by a cable. Owners of Wi-Fi equipped devices such as iPhones, iPads, Kindles and Nooks, are able to do all of those things plus easily carry their personal access to our Web catalog as they walk around the library in search of just the right item. Users can access our network to download ebooks and other materials to their personal devices.

What areas are covered?

With only a few weak spots, the entire main floor of the library has free public wireless Internet access available. A single Wireless Access Point (WAP) serves nearly the entire main public floor (SSID = WPPL) of the library; good signal strength can be found from Special Services and the Circulation Desk to the Reference Desk and from the outdoor reading garden to Youth Services. Weaker signal strength is noted in the Reference Study Rooms due to steel stud work inside the walls. The meeting room wing is served by the WAP "WPPL_North." The Cafe and lobby areas are best served by "WPPL_Cafe."

What are the settings to use ?

The default setting is to use DHCP to obtain an IP address. Our access points are set for "infrastructure" operation. Encryption is not available so no key or password is required. Be sure your laptop's Wi-Fi is turned on or enabled and not in "airplane mode" (turned off).

How do I connect?

From the library location you have chosen to use and using the operating system and wireless networking software that is installed on your computer, scan for WAPs. You may be given a list of several WAPs from which to choose. Our SSIDs are: "WPPL", "WPPL_North", and "WPPL_Cafe" -- do NOT connect to any other SSID while visiting here! Our primary public WAPs use open authentication which means you do not need an encryption key nor will encryption be available (see "Is It Secure?", below). Choose to connect to the WAP having the stronger signal. Be sure to consider and acknowledge any security notices your system presents  -- you are connecting to a broadband public network and it is good to be safe and bad to be sorry!

How fast is it?

The IEEE 802.11b standard has a nominal speed of 11 megabits per second (Mbps). The 802.11g standard's best is 54 Mbps. However, depending on signal quality and how many other people are using the wireless Ethernet through a particular Access Point, usable speed may be less. Speed will likely still be substantially faster than most dialup connections, and faster than many DSL and cable modem connections. To put that into perspective, wired 10BaseT Ethernet is a full 10 Mbps, and a 56K modem connection is .056 Mbps. Our Internet connection is via 10 Mbps fiber-Ethernet provided by the OPLIN: Ohio Public Library Information Network, funded by the state of Ohio.

Is it secure?

No! Wireless Ethernet is insecure by default. Any user on the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) can spy on unencrypted traffic from other wireless users. Our public hot spots are currently unencrypted to allow for open access. Please take wise security precautions. All users should, at the very least, use personal firewalls and turn off file/print sharing to protect against intrusion and data theft.

Wireless users are advised to use SSL to connect to secure web pages and mail hosts, SSH instead of telnet whenever possible, and VPNs (virtual private networks) for all other data to ensure privacy and security. Business users in wireless hot spots should utilize their corporate VPN connection, if one is available, to protect traffic as it travels over the airwaves and through the Internet.

Wired connections are generally more secure than wireless but wired users should also take precautions such as use of personal firewalls and VPNs, when available. Free high-speed (100 Mbps) wired connections are available in specified areas of the library -- ask at the Electronic Services Desk.

Make sure your browser is connected via a secure channel before entering passwords, account numbers, etc. Ask for advice if you are uncertain about how to learn your encryption status.

It's my computer, can't I do whatever I want?

Within limits, you may. But since you will be attached to the library's network you must abide by our rules concerning acceptable use. Among those rules: no attempts to attack our systems or those of others, no illegal behavior. Personal behavior policies also apply while you are on library property; those policies generally require simple respect for the rights of others -- no excessive noise, offensive language, etc. Breaking the rules may lead to loss of computer and/or library privileges, even criminal prosecution. Ask a librarian for a printed copy of our policy if you wish to learn more. Play nice!

What equipment do I need?

Modern notebook computers generally have wireless networking built-in. Key attributes to look for are a system that is fully 802.11b/g compliant, and Wi-Fi Certified.

How much will this cost me for equipment?

Westlake Porter Public Library's Wi-Fi is a free public service and there is no cost to access it.

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last modified: 9/17/2012