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Tuolumne County Library Now A Hotspot

Tuolumne County´s main library got hot this week, and it wasn´t just the weather.

The library, at 480 Greenley Road, Sonora, became the latest “hotspot,” the term that state-of-the-art computer users call a location where their specially equipped laptops can access the Internet without plugging into a wall. Wireless “hotspots” are popping up rapidly at coffee bars, restaurants, hotels, airports and, now, at the county library.

The new free service went into use almost immediately, according to Connie Corcoran, Tuolumne County Director of Library Services. A patron came in with a laptop, saw that he could reach the Internet without waiting for a seat at one of the library´s computers and made his connection.

A $1,000 commitment from Friends of the Tuolumne County Library is paying for the hardware, telephone expense and other costs associated the wireless Internet connection. The all-volunteer Friends group runs the used book store just off the main library lobby and this year is expected to contribute more than $15,000 to support various library programs – including the “hotspot” installation.

“This new service greatly enhances the research resources that we offer patrons,” Corcoran said. “On behalf of all our staff and the many patrons who will welcome this new ‘hotspot,´ I thank our generous and forward-looking Friends group for making it possible.”

W. A. Van Tuyl, who is vice president of the Friends board of directors and operates a computer service, handled most of the technical work for the installation. Internet connectivity is provided by Mother Lode Internet of Sonora (www.mlode.com )

Here´s how the “hotspot” works: An electronic device, called a router, is mounted on a library wall. A person with a properly equipped laptop computer can make a wireless connection with the router, which in turn connects him or her to the Internet. From there the user can send or receive e-mail, do research or tap into any of the Internet´s other features.

Patrons can make their connection from almost anywhere in the main library. As many as 100 laptop users could operate simultaneously through the single router. The library also has six conventional computers that patrons can use.