There are 14 computers in front of Paley Library’s circulation desk that Temple students and faculty cannot use. Instead, these computers are exclusively for public use and are the only provider for public Internet access on Main Campus.
Paley Library has an average of 50 to 70 people per day using the guest computers, said Stefan Del Cotto, bibliographic assistant.
Steven Bell, associate university librarian for research and instructional services, said the staff of Paley takes the responsibility of providing public access for computers seriously.
“There’s always been that responsibility of being open to the public,” Bell said. “Temple libraries take very seriously the Temple University mission, which is to serve its community.”
Some North Philadelphia residents said that they prefer using Paley for Internet access rather than public libraries in the city.
“A lot of high school and middle school kids go [to the Free Library] and a lot of times they don’t have a lot of self-control, so there’s still a lot of noise,” Cassandra Lee, 59, of Mount Airy, said. “Then you still have to wait a lot of times for computers. [At Paley] with the guest computers, the wait is usually not that long.”
The number of people that use the guest computers at Paley is on par with the computer usage at the local Free Library of Philadelphia.
The closest Free Library to Temple, the Cecil B. Moore branch, is located at 23rd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. In September, approximately 63 to 72 people per day used the branch’s computers, said branch manager Heather Sparks.
While the number of users is similar at both libraries, the Free Library limits usage to 30 minutes a day per person. Paley on the other hand, allows members of the public to use the computers up to two hours a day.
The Cecil B. Moore branch is open five days a week, seven to eight hours a day. Paley, on the other hand, is open seven days a week with guest computer services open between 10 and 14 hours a day.
Public access would continue at the proposed library on Broad Street, but the specifics are still undecided, Bell said.
Paley helps to ease the shortage of Internet access in the surrounding neighborhood by promoting the program in an area that has a large number of households lacking broadband.
Penelope Myers, department head of access services at Paley, said the program is paramount to everyday life.
“Let’s face it. We can’t even do anything these days without computers. You can’t even apply for a job at McDonald’s or Fresh Grocer without going online,” Myers said. “So, A, you have to have access to a computer, and, B, you have to know how to use a computer.”
At the suggestion of Supervisor of Circulation & Reserve Kathy Lehman, Paley now also employs students specifically to help assist guest computer users.
“We help people with their résumés, we help them attach a file, if they’re applying for a job they can send their résumé,” Myers said. “It’s something that we have taken very seriously. But the rest of the university has been slower to catch up.”
Temple Libraries brought up the idea of making more computers available for public access at the TECH Center, but the idea was dismissed, Myers said.
Michael Chau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.